Google Street View
- Privacy Concerns in Canada
released Street View, a new feature of Google Maps which provides 360° panoramic
street-level views of various U.S. cities. On this date, the feature only
included five cities, but has since expanded to fifteen, with plans for more
U.S. and Canadian cities in the future. The application
raises privacy concerns because of its close-up views of city streets and
recognisable shots of people. Images showing people beeing arrested, sunbathing
and urinating in the public, have been found by users (see e.g.
10 bizarre sights in Google Street View).
The new feature probably meets U.S. privacy
standards because the U.S. has a long tradition of treating public spaces as
truly public. But the new feature might not be legal in countries with stricter
privacy laws. Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document
Act (PIPEDA) e.g. requires private companies to obtain consent of consumers to
collect, use or disclosure their personal information. In order to comply with
Canadian laws, Google is willing to blur identifiable faces and license plates.
according to Margaret Ann Wilkinson, a professor of law and information and
media studies at the University of Western Ontario, this might not be enough:
"If an individual can be readily identified by his or her body, clothing or
location, it might still be considered a violation."
The Google cam-cars have already been spotted in
London suggesting that Street View will be extended to Europe.