Google Humiliated in Japan: Must Redo Street View


Google has been forced by public pressure to retake the entirety of its Street View photographs in Japan, with the camera lowered 40cm to prevent people’s homes being exposed to the world by a camera peeping over their fences.


Google’s Street View addition to Google Maps, which allows users to access photos taken from public roads in a number of countries, has long incensed many Japanese, who have complained of rampant violations of their privacy.

A variety of online and citizen’s groups had raised a range of complaints about the scheme, chiefly centred on the failure to obtain consent before photographing people’s homes, and the wide variety of abuse the photos can be put to, with everything from burglary to stalking conceivably facilitated.

Until now Google had largely ignored them, providing sops in the form of mosaics and removal on request, as well as automatically blurring number plates (and frequently random text visible on signs), but in the face of increasing anger both online and off, they have finally relented and introduced further changes.

In response, Google finally caved to the growing unhappiness by reducing the height of its cameras by 40cm to reduce visibility of private property from the roads, and has announced it will retake its entire database of photos from the new height.

Additionally, it is offering a variety of reporting features, including an offline telephone reporting line, to allow people to opt out of its developing surveillance network. Sections of Streetview occasionally become mysteriously unavailable, and it seems this is the cause. It will still assume people consent to having their property photographed, however.

Google has put a brave face on the defeat, hardly mentioning the vociferous protests, instead saying it “adjusted the program in accordance with the width of roads and the local housing conditions.”

Allowing people to request removal of their domicile may be a measure unlikely to satisfy many offline groups, since it seems the vast majority of those whose homes are photographed are likely unaware of the fact and are being imposed upon as a result.

Via Gigazine.



The simplistic argument that “people should have no expectation of privacy in a public space” may once have been applicable to such cases, but clearly cannot apply to technology which in a few iterations will enable ubiquitous real-time monitoring of anyone visible from a public space.

Perpetually recording and watching people come and go from their homes and to who knows where else will hardly be impeded by merely mosaicing their faces, so if people are to retain some semblance of privacy in the digital age responsible conduct or regulated activity is necessary from companies such as Google.

Tales of people’s private lives becoming public knowledge with disastrous consequences are already becoming commonplace.

Of course, allowing virtual access to the cities of the world also brings with it significant economic benefits, only likely to increase…

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    Avatar of solace
    Comment by solace
    09:56 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Photography is not a crime.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    It is depending on what you photograph.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:52 25/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Avatar of tyciol
    Comment by Tyciol
    06:18 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hm, well Japan is tech savvy

    Avatar of kingalekz
    Comment by kingalekz
    06:07 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The Google Street View car actually drove by my house today. And it's highly possible that it looked into my window. But I don't care.
    I'm now eagerly awaiting the upload of the images to see my stupid face on Google Maps.

    Comment by Shinx
    10:52 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Requested link once uploaded =)

    Comment by Missingno
    20:21 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    A must have. No doubt about it.

    Comment by NotANativeSpeaker
    08:29 15/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I hate all this Big Brother talk. Society is the first one to try to vigilate itself, according to the wishes/morals of the majority of the people. Just see the RapeLay case.

    I don't agree with invasion of privacy, but I certainly don't mind Google Streets or security cameras, as long as they're not invading my privacy (which, thanks to capitalism, they would try to evade, since most people would sue them, otherwise). And no, this isn't just the "first step" for any of your paranoid theories, current reader.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:41 15/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, right. the rapelay case was according to the wish of the "majority of people".

    And google won't invade your privacy because... you know... the invisible hand will stop them magically with it's super powers. Remember, that's how the market is regulated !

    Any company will invade privacy if it benefits them at the end, thanks to capitalism.

    Comment by HM
    05:19 15/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Google took out the image of the girls flashing. It says that "image is not available" lol,+Homewood,+Cook,+Illinois+60430&ie=UTF8&ct=clnk&cd=1&geocode=Fcf2eQIdqK7G-g&split=0&vps=1&output=js&jsv=158b&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=23.875,57.630033 [ May St, Homewood, Cook, Illinois 60430&ie=UTF8&ct=clnk&cd=1&geocode=Fcf2eQIdqK7G-g&split=0&vps=1&output=js&jsv=158b&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=23.875,57.630033]

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:17 15/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    How exactly is this humiliating to Google?

    Avatar of FreeNadia
    Comment by FreeNadia
    00:23 16/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Nothing hidden with google

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:05 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    man do you just copy paste other peoples articles?

    Comment by Cerenado
    12:22 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Excuse me, but what's with all the rampant exhibitionism that's depicted on this blog? :D

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:18 15/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's because the otakus must show people how Japan is superior to an American enterprise.

    Comment by KurenaiOokami
    18:54 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    This kind of thing doesn't personally bother me... but how do Google get away with it? I swear this kind of photography must violate some kind of law...

    Comment by anon
    22:30 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "technology which in a few iterations will enable ubiquitous real-time monitoring of anyone visible from a public space."
    You mean 'cars with a camera on them' will somehow evolve into 'pervasive invisible floating camera drones with unlimited endurance and bandwidth'? Because I think the technology has a bit further to go then 'a few iterations'.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    Somebody has never heard of security cameras I see.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:21 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Which is similar to Street View how? ...the article made it sound like you could use Google's technology to monitor people, which is far from any sort of truth.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:53 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Someone riding a bike? Lower the scale a little.... they can tell if someone is smoking a cigarette or a doobie, that is how clear and accurate they are.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:25 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    That is, on a sunny day without any clouds between you and the satellite. Pretty much inconceivable where I used to live.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:37 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The bike thing was the last one I was aware of, didn't know that they'd refined it even further. Thanks for the info. :)

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:50 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I do believe he was referring to the general principle behind the technology as opposed to the current status of the technology.

    Besides, isn't that floating camera drone thing something from the Truman show, or whatever that movie was called, with Jim Carrey?

    And on a side note, it's not fully inconceivable, if Google were to switch over to UAVS. A fairly common one, the RQ-4 Global Hawk has an on station endurance of 36 hours. DARPA is working on Vulture, which is supposed to remain airborne for 5 years.

    Current record is held by the QinetiQ Zephyr Solar Electric at 82 hours 37 minutes.

    And that also ignores the possibility of utilizing satellites for this, as SpySats are already capable of taking pictures accurate enough to be able to pick up someone riding a bicycle.

    Avatar of Oneiros
    Comment by Oneiros
    22:35 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Big Brother is watching joo.

    Avatar of Raymond O
    Comment by Raymond Otaku Ting
    22:30 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I never know i can try that in my neighborhood.
    The babe all over the world that you could choose.

    Avatar of LunarSD
    Comment by LunarSD
    22:41 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I guess I must be a hermit if I've never even heard of this service before.

    I know they do grainy satellite shots, but "Street View"?

    I assume these cameras are ground on planet Earth, and not actually a live satellite feed?

    I'd Google to find this out for myself... but... oh bah like boycotting Google of all entities would really get anyone anywhere. *googles*

    Avatar of LunarSD
    Comment by LunarSD
    04:56 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can't help but wonder how exactly they're profiting in such a venture, or what their original intentions were with it...

    Perhaps they wish to monitor the entire planet in crystal clarity one day, and that's the truth behind their "Do no evil" slogan.

    "Do no evil, because Santa will know whenever you've been naughty or nice".

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:26 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't see why you would have to profit from everything, still it's great marketing.
    I'd also guess that it's not free for business to be added to the map.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:27 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Google don't do any satellite shots. They buy the images from various different organizations and companies, which also include photos taken from airplanes and helicopters.

    Avatar of Icy-nee-san
    Comment by Icy-nee-san
    22:44 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    lolz I remember last weeks, when me and my friends spent our entire ICT class and Lunch Break looking through Japan with Google Earth XD

    Avatar of lerrymaru
    Comment by maru
    01:21 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    ICT class? woot. comrade.

    Avatar of acesofthesky
    Comment by Ace
    05:59 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yay for ICT Classes!

    Avatar of Shigure
    Comment by Anon B
    08:32 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    people actually use google earth?
    in their free time? o_o
    gotta try that

    Comment by Otanon
    01:09 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm quite shocked, I honestly believed you were older, Icy-nee-san.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:12 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    As soon as I read "lowered 40cm" I immediately thought "Oh god, upskirts please?"

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:03 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    They just got caned in Greece too. An outright ban until Google can provide "additional privacy guarantees".

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:57 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    There isn't any privacy protection OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME! How many times are we going to have to say that: in most, if not ALL, countries if you are outside of your home...... no expectation to privacy and if you have a window open, no expectation of privacy is allowed.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    You missed the point of the article, I see.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:25 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    lol, good old hypocrisy at work. They're happy to lap up trashy magazines like Friday that destroy the lives of celebrities to make sales, yet can't hack their own house being shown on the internet...

    Comment by KonaKona4
    22:18 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The UK has this problem already ne~?

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:12 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    take your wapanese somewhere else

    Comment by neonshadows
    16:15 28/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    uhhh.... this is sankaku.
    this is wapan.

    Comment by Otanon
    01:07 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, they accidentally showed over the tops of a walled army training camp and all manner of other things.

    Avatar of basilio
    Comment by basilio
    21:55 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Oh, and if people do not want to be spotted doing indecent acts (referring to the cheating husband, not the residents), they shouldn't be doing them in the first place...

    Though they should really consider a more effective way to ensure privacy of the people...

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:52 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Privacy brother,,,heheee

    Avatar of basilio
    Comment by basilio
    21:51 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Speed Limit - 25
    Your Speed - 31


    Avatar of Kitsune9Tails
    Comment by Kitsune9Tails
    13:34 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    When Children are present. If there are no children around waiting to cross the road, then the normally posted speed limit applies (probably 35, if it's a large residential street, would be my guess).

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:22 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Usually such speed-limits are enforced just in case a child would get the superb idea of just running out into the street...
    Oh well, Darwinism FTW!

    Avatar of Berserkhobo
    Comment by Berserkhobo
    23:45 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Who drives 25 mph nowadays? And that pic looks awful familiar...

    Comment by AoCanada
    04:42 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's a school zone. If you're driving anymore than 25 MPH in a school zone, I will personally kick your ass.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:16 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    All I hear is BAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. If someone cheating on their spouse is exposed by this technology, then I see nothing wrong with that.

    And how arrogant do you have to be to assume there are people out there deliberately spying on you? No, your life is fucking boring, unless you are a celebrity or something similar, people are just going to skim right past your house, and the thousands of other ones that look exactly the same as it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:17 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ugh, I have no idea why this was placed here, pressed the Post Comment button at the very bottom. Didn't mean this to be a reply to above, I guess the computers are attacking now.

    Comment by heyjey
    12:09 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I agree with the before last Anon. Truth has been told. Who cares about some random strangers anyways?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:50 14/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Come and kick mine then, because I have driven more than 25 MPH in a school zone MANY times.... the fact is that those '25mph' are ONLY enforced when school is coming in or letting out... not at any other times during the day in most places.

    Avatar of giedriusonline
    Comment by giedrius
    21:56 13/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    LOL fail
    needs to uplaudet to

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