Friday, September 17, 2010

Google Street View - Why is the Czech Republic Using a Ban? Should the U.S.?

According to Prague AP, the Czech Republic banned Google from expanding Google Street View.
The ban still allows Google Street View to show photos of Prague but they are not allowed to collect new photos.

Google is facing privacy concerns across Europe related to the pictures but also by the news that Google's Street View cars were recording traffic from online activities over Wi-Fi networks.  France launched a privacy investigation.  Germany has insisted that its citizens be given the options to blur their photos.  They are also under investigations in Spain and Australia.

Google was quoted in the Silicon Republic as saying, "We have in place robust procedures to protect privacy, such as face and number plate blurring and removal tool.

"Street View has proved a popular and useful tool for consumers and businesses around the world and we look forward to finding a solution to bring additional imagery to people in Czech Republic," they said.

Connecticut's Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, is representing a 37-state coalition in the U.S..  North Carolina is part of the coalition.  The coalition is looking into the privacy and security issues with Google Street View, especially related to their data collection from personal and company Wi-Fi networks without permission.  It is possible that the Wi-Fi traffic reveals emails, web browsing habits, passwords, and other confidential information.

Why should you care?  Google Street View can be a very helpful tool!  I have found many a soccer field or business client using it.  However, there are concerns that someone could case your business or house for points of entry, places to hide, etc. in the cover of internet darkness.  Could they do that in person?  Yes.  However, they have a higher likelihood of being caught in person.

What is your opinion?  Love it?  Hate it?  Neutral?

World News, "Czechs ban Google from expanding 'Street View'", AP, September 17, 2010

Silicon Republic, "Czech Republic bans Google Street View data gathering", September 15, 2010

The Register, "Czechs tell Google to stop StreetView Another dissident against Schmidt's glorious privacy-free future", John Oates, September 14, 2010

The Precursor Blog, "37 States now investigating Google StreetView snooping", Scott Cleland, Julyy 21, 2010.

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