Technically Geeking: Richies Riot Over Google Street View Apr15

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Technically Geeking: Richies Riot Over Google Street View


a new blogumn by Justin Time

satelliteI’m a geek. And I like cars. That’s why last week I was captivated by a story about the geekiest car of all – the Google Street View Car. If you don’t know what this is, it’s a regular car onto which Google straps a camera and drives around taking pictures for their Street View feature on Google Maps. This tool comes in handy for prospective home buyers who use these images to get an idea of what a real estate listing looks like in the real world. I’ve used it when browsing Craigslist rentals to check out the surrounding neighborhood.

Google began photographing the world in 2001 — first by satellite, then by car. Along the way, there have been a few complaints and failed lawsuits, filed mostly by individuals inadvertently caught doing embarrassing things, but the red-handed, red-faced citizens never managed to slow Google down. Until last week, that is, when the good people of Broughton, England, made a stand and actually chased the Gcar out of town.

0001A07D94020E1A1EF7B4D45Evidently, the concerned Broughton residents felt their posh homes would be more in danger of crooks figuring out the best ways to sneak in and steal their potted meat if the Street View images made their way online:

“This is an affluent area,” resident Paul Jacobs told The Times of London. “We’ve already had three burglaries locally in the past six weeks. If our houses are plastered all over Google, it’s an invitation for more criminals to strike. I was determined to make a stand, so I called the police.”

Now I’m not opposed to protecting privacy, but this is just plain silly. Wouldn’t it be more effective for a burglar to properly case the joint in person, wearing a gas company jump suit, and figure out if the target house has 1) a dog 2) an alarm system and 3) anything good to burgle? Any thief that limits their pre-crime prep research to blurry images online needs to go back to bad-guy school.

Google responded by saying that they are not doing anything illegal. They understand some people are not comfortable with Street View images of their homes, and they have a page with instructions for removing them.

I feel for the paranoid folks of Broughton, however, because it sounds like they will be getting more than their just dessert. Not only is their tiny village now internationally known as a good target for burglars, but a bunch of Twitter users have tweeted their plan to snub the Broughton villagers by showing up in droves to snap their own photos of the shy residents’ homes.

Now that’s just cold.


Google car photo credit: Jessica Cunniffe/Caters News