Sunday, April 5, 2009

Broughton residents tell Google: "Hey, you ethnics! Get off my lawn!"

Some of you may have noticed or even used Google Maps street-level view to see what certain areas look like at, well, street level. I know that I found that the safest way to look at my childhood home back in Compton.

Google's plan to take a street view photo of communities on three continents (North America, Europe, and somewhere else) is running headlong into people who are pissed at Google stripping away their privacy.

In fact, the residents of affluent Broughton, England, chased down a Google Street View car and called the bobbies on them. Who came with sticks, because that's all they carry. They have orders to be assertive on sight.

The Broughtonites' reasons are, well, reasonable. Says resident Paul Jacobs:
My immediate reaction was anger: How dare anyone take a photograph of my home without my consent? I ran outside to flag the car down and told the driver he was not only invading our privacy but also facilitating crime.

This is an affluent area. We've already had three burglaries locally in the past six weeks. If our houses are plastered all over Google it's an invitation for more criminals to strike. I was determined to make a stand, so I called the police."
There might be a slight bit of paranoia underlying that sentiment, but only a little. At any rate, perhaps people who value their privacy shouldn't be subjected to this if they don't want it (this is certainly something I thought of in relation to my visit to the Rhee House).

For their part, Google says they have an easy way to have pictures of cars or houses removed. But what about those whose property is up for all to see but they don't know about it because they don't surf Google Maps? My relatives had no idea their home was viewable from Google Street View, and they weren't too happy about it.

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