Google Maps and Google Earth are really cool tools. The ability to zoom to almost street level anywhere in the world is gimmicky for sure, but still something that definitely sparks oohs and aahs when put on show to find an old home. Or anything for that matter. And if / when you see your car in the drive of your house, it’s not creepy, just a wonder of technology, and after all Google Maps / Earth isn’t updating the image of your street regularly enough for it to show your movements.
But what about Streetview? Streetview is the newest addition to Google Maps and gives 360 degree street level views of you guessed it, streets. Currently available for New York, Miami, Denver Las Vegas and Los Angeles (with plans to expand this quickly no doubt), Google sends employees around cities in Google Vans armed with cameras to take these pictures of streets. And anyone and anything that happens to be on those streets when said picture are being taken.
It’s adding new functionality to Google Maps for sure (and the public has been quick to set up sites dedicated to the best pictures from the service – check some out here and here), but some issues related to the P-word (privacy, that is) are cropping up. People are being photographed doing things they may not necessarily want the world to know about, like taking a quick break from work, walking out of a gentleman’s club, or grabbing parts of themselves that are better grabbed in the privacy of your own home. All this leads to the question that has been floating around for the last couple of weeks, and that is, if this was the FBI / MI5 / or any government organization snapping away on our streets in such a conspicuous manner, would we still be relatively docile about it?