Thursday, July 10, 2008
Plans by internet giant Google to photograph millions of British homes and publish them online was today condemned as a “gross invasion of privacy”.
Google’s Street View website will allow anyone in the world to type in an a UK address or postcode and instantly see a 360 degree picture of the street – including close-ups of buildings, cars and people.
Critics say the site is a “burglar’s charter” and makes it easy for criminals to case out potential victims. The pictures also show people leaving and entering hospitals, health clinics, adult shops and hotels.
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Although their faces are deliberately blurred, many people could still be recognised by their clothing and hair colour.
The site was launched in major American cities last year and extended to the Tour de France routes last week.
Although Google refuses to say when the UK version will go online, cars emblazoned with the Google logo and carrying massive 360 degree cameras, have been spotted circling the streets of British cities in the last few weeks.
The UK’s data watchdog – the Information Commissioner’s office – is so concerned about Street View it has written to Google demanding privacy guarantees.
Street View is designed to complement Google Earth – a collection of detailed satellite pictures that covers every square mile of the globe.
Users of the new website can either browse maps of towns before clicking on a street view, or type in an address or postcode.
The images show which homes belong to wealthy owners, which have easy access for burglars, which have expensive cars parked outside and which have alarm boxes.
And although the pictures are not “live” – but are only updated once every few years – the website has also raised concerns about people photographed by the roving cameras.
One image shows two men apparently gazing at a women as she bends over.
This article was posted: Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 2:28 pm