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Street View = Legal Action
Privacy concerns continue to dog the exceedingly innovative and increasingly controversial search engine company Google. Up next on the target list of privacy advocates is Google’s Street View. Available now in 27 US cities, "Street View allows users to...view a 360-degree photographic panorama of the buildings, roads and unfortunate passers-by caught in the eye of Google's vans." Each of Google’s Street View vans "has a roof camera, and photos...are stitched together to produce a 360-degree image." Live video footage may eventually be possible.

Meanwhile, Privacy International (PI) is threatening to sue Google if they begin their picture-taking operations in the UK. PI was created to act "as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations." The UK-based NGO with an office in Washington, DC campaigns "across the world to protect people against intrusion by governments and corporations that seek to erode this fragile right. We believe that privacy forms part of the bedrock of freedoms...."

As voyeurs and others search "the site for the newest and most bizarre stills caught by Google's roving photographers, hundreds of Americans have complained, seeking to have more than just their faces removed." Images captured and made public by Street View so far have included a "man entering an adult video store...two women sunbathing in their front garden at Stanford University" and "a girl bending over the front seat of her van to reveal a black thong."

Whether Google’s Street View may open the company to potential liability is unknown. Whether Google will need the services of many expensive lawyers, however, seems quite likely.

See Privacy International website

See Guardian article

See Google Street View website

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