privacy alert: google steet view cars in london

Following a meeting at the Cabinet Office earlier today, a colleague and I spotted the Google Street View car filming in Whitehall.

Google Street View is an extension of the functionality of google maps that lets users see the view they’d get if they were actually walking down a street. Spotting sunbathers, crimes in progress and other goings on within Street View has become a bit of a cult activity.

In the UK there’s been a bit of a backlash against Google Street View but, just yesterday, it was given the go-ahead by the Information Commissioner, who had been reviewing the service in light of UK privacy laws and a complaint from Privacy International.

In the US, court papers have been released which, critics say, demonstrate "Google’s hypocrisy" after the company claimed that "complete privacy doesn’t exist" – quite the opposite to it’s normal statements that Google "takes privacy very seriously".

As for the guy in the Google Street View car, I reckon he’s been photographed before – he didn’t seem to take any notice at all of me standing there snapping away.


  1. I have always been concerned about Google’s practices. Sure, we may not have an expectation of privacy while being on a public street, but must that mean that our activities are broadcasted to the entire world?

  2. Interesting to compare the attitude of people complaining about streetview with those who complain about being told not to take photos in public spaces by secuity guards/police.
    Photos taken on the street and put onto flickr/picasa with tags or geocode are just as ‘pivacy interrupting’ as streetview.
    It’s a panopticon. You can’t change it without severely curtailing the rights of normal people to take photos wherever they like.

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