Friday, August 1, 2008

Big Brother Out To Get Some Bangers and Mash – August 1, 2008

Google has been given the okay by the UK government to drive their “Street View” cars across their country. Horray England! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the street view feature, but I feel that it does compromise our privacy. Before I list why I think it violates our privacy, here’s what I love about street view:

- The ability to “stroll” the street past a restaurant that I ate at one time, but forgot the name. When I use street view I can check out the signage to get the restaurant’s name.

- Browsing the exterior of apartments that I’m looking at on Craigslist

- Spying on celebs houses to see who’s parked outside and see if you can look into their windows

- Exploring cities I’m going to visit so I can get a lay of the land ahead of time

- Seeing funny things that people have noticed in Street View.

Should Street View be illegal, does it violate our privacy? Maybe. It reveals things to the public that private citizens may not want to be seen. I have several friends who are upset about the fact their car’s license plate is clearly visible. It’s especially disconcerting that the car might be parked in the driveway, which would instantly give someone the information they needed to identify who the house belongs to. Other complaints deal with people being upset that their faces have shown up. (note to self – try to find myself on Street View). Finally, there's the whole, OMG you can see right into my house/apartment.

All in all I think that the biggest issue for me is the fact that a company is making money off of people’s information. The information is of course their houses, cars, etc. But I feel that the value it provides me is worth the intrusion. I also look at it from the angle of, “What if the government was doing this?” Most people would freak out and rebel. Does Google make my life better, yes. Do I think Google should continue to improve the way people find things and explore the world, yes. Does Google even care what I think, no.

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