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Killjoys Want Google To Close Down Street View

The director of Privacy International, Simon Davies, is lobbying the Information Commissioner to close Google Street View until the company sorts out privacy-related issues.

The ICO has received a formal complaint based on the the fact that more than 200 reports from members of the public that were identified through Street View, which is a feature of Google Maps.

Before Street View was launched last year, the ICO laid a number of ground rules to which Google said it has aboded. But Simon Davies considers that Streetview has caused "clear embarrassment and damage" to many Britons.

The ICO, Davies continued, "never grasped the gravity of how a benign piece of legislation could affect ordinary lives" and prompted PI to ask for the system to be "switched off while an investigation is completed".

Leading Legal IT Firm, Pinsent Masons, says that the arguments laid by PI may be valid emotional ones but thinks that there's not a strong legal one and points to a recent ruling in the case of Author JK Rowling where the judges acknowledged that photos which are taken "to show the scene in a street by a passer-by and later published as street scenes" could be allowed.

For if the ICO decides to stand in the way of Google, this could potentially open a Pandora box and prompt other companies like Facebook or Myspace to review their terms and conditions.

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Our Comments

This is starting to become a joke. If Google Street View is closed down, then what will happen to flickr or other innovative services like Photosynth, which go even further than Google SV. The French, who have lived with Google Street View for nearly a year now and have had more than 30 towns photographed, have had a more pragmatic approach.

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Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.