Google Street View Not Violating Privacy Laws Says ICO

Street View, Google's equivalent to an open circuit television system, does not constitute a threat to personal privacy according to the Information Commissioner's Office.

According to the Guardian, the ICO, which is UK's Independent body in charge of promoting access to official information and to promote the protection of personal data, said that Google was not breaking any privacy laws.

The Sunday newspaper reports that the ICO objected to Privacy International's complaints about Street View. It used the example of popular sports programme "Match of The Day", arguing that, following the arguments of PI, the BBC would have to gain the consent of everyone attending televised football matches in case they were caught on camera.

Understandably, Privacy International said that it was "disappointed" at the conclusion reached by the ICO, adding that some parts "lack the rigour that is necessary to protect Britain from the encroachment of the surveillance society".

A spokesperson for the search giant said that the company "looks forward to a constructive dialogue with Privacy International and other privacy stakeholders."

Google Street View has attracted fierce criticisms after hundreds complained about the extent to which the technology pushed the boundaries of individual privacy. Even though in most cases, the images were more than one year old, the fact that they were widely available through a popular interface made it even more controversial.

The news comes days only after the daily mail reported that privacy groups criticised Google for taking too long to remove pictures that residents of areas visited by Google street car violated their privacy.

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Our Comments

Google Street View is only one of the many online services which could potentially become a Pandora box for privacy campaigners. Facebook, Twitter and many other lesser-known entities all have the capacity to be exploited by criminals and stalkers. Furthermore, users uploading pictures to Google Maps and Google Street View through Panoramio do not undergo the same stringent process of blurring faces and number plates.

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