Google Street View Attacks Stanford Students’ Privacy?

Posted by at 1:25PM

The Web has been abuzz with Google’s new Street View function which pairs up with its Google Maps feature to show you what it is like to be on a street whose address you enter. So, you can look up your favorite bakery in SF, find the street, zoom in from satellite above and now, look right at its awning and that succulent chocolate cake in the window.
What I have just described is the innocuous use of this feature.
People have instead been looking for the craziest, funniest, strangest images they could find which were catalogued by the Google team, which covered miles and miles of streets around New York, San Francisco and other big cities.
Some claim to have found E.T.
But perhaps most unnerving to Stanford students are the images of our own campus. The Wired Magazine blog sought out submissions for the “best inadvertent” shots people could find.
This photo looks like it was taken right outside of Twain, between Stern and Wilbur.
Just by “walking” down Escondido Road you can find this photo of two girls sunbathing in front of Manzanita.
While I think the technology is cool (they use an 11-lens camera, the Dodeca 2360), I can see why privacy wonks are worried. If I were one of those girls, I probably wouldn’t be too happy that anyone with an internet connection could see me in my bathing suit when all I wanted to do was get some sun on a lazy afternoon. And what recourse do they have? Call up Google and kindly ask that a new picture of the lawn in front of Kimball be taken?


11 Responses to “Google Street View Attacks Stanford Students’ Privacy?”

  1. Adam says:

    Of course, anybody can get these images by walking on public property and snapping a picture. Google has gathered a lot of this public image data and made it accessible.
    Facebook did the same thing, but on a less public scale with “News Feed”. All the information was already there on your friends’ profiles–they just formatted it differently and made it simple to see a whole bunch of information. Anybody could have written a script to create their own News Feed without Facebook’s consent (and could still write a script to track the minutes that friends make a change, even if they opted out of that privacy option). I could continue, but I’d be digressing.
    Why does easy access to already available information scare people? If you can be seen from public property…I’m sorry, but it’s a public image.
    Also, Google allows you to report “inappropriate” street views if you’re still not satisfied–but this still can’t stop a stranger from taking a picture of your house (or you) from the public streets.

  2. David says:

    Oh, sure, maybe the students are worried about their privacy, and we wouldn’t want that… so let’s put up an EVEN BIGGER picture of them on the website!

  3. christian says:

    that’s the whole point– now it’s mine (and yours, and anybody’s) to share, enlarge, copy and paste wherever we want!

  4. Min says:

    wow, this is a great sell for profros…

  5. Jay Wollmann says:

    if they would just be a little more careful of the pictures they take in the first place, then they could avoid a lot of headaches in the future. Maybe they could put up signs a day in advance or so saying that they are going to be taking pictures of the area for Google street?
    Jay Wollmann

  6. D says:

    There’s a famous picture in SF of a girl in a truck, with her thong showing. That, I can understand, is inappropriate and ought to be taken down. But this is a picture of two girls willingly sunbathing in a very public place. Their faces aren’t showing. I agree with Adam – making public information more easy to access isn’t a privacy issue.

  7. GeoTrotter says:

    I added here the best Street View.

  8. gbanuel says:

    They are out in public, half naked! Get over it. If they wanted privacy, they’d be CLOTHED. No one jumped over a fence to take this picture.

  9. W says:

    Aside from the fact that they are out in public and clothed. I estimate that on that day, close to one thousand people would have seen them by walking past.
    As a result of Google Street View, between 100 and 250 people would view that street (and that particular photo) per day. Almost all of whom would do so innocently.
    Now, thanks to your website (and others like it) the photo is being viewed in the tens of thousands of times each and every day often with not so innocent intent.
    If anyone should get done for privacy (not to mention copyright) its you.

  10. Melissa says:

    Definitely!If they wanted privacy, they would be clothed.

  11. chris says:

    In this day and age most people have their image taken at least 10 time a day. So your Privacy is DOA. Think about it people with phone,atm video,traffic cams and so on…

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