Op-Ed Spotlight: In Defense of Google Street View
Don't be afraid, Europe!
Google can't catch a break in Europe. After getting slapped with an antitrust probe, the EU is placing new restrictions on Street View, Google's voyeuristic neighborhood picture book. The EU's privacy watchdog wants Google to warn local towns before it starts photographing streetside scenery. It's also limiting the amount of time Google can retain the photographs. While Google's clearly not happy with the decision, neither are passionate Street View advocates. Weighing in from the American side of the pond, ZDNet's Sam Diaz encourages Europe to embrace the Web product.
Personally, I think the benefits of Street View outweigh the concerns over privacy, largely because Google isn’t capturing images of anything that isn’t available for the public to see. After all, the streets are in a public domain. If I walked around a town randomly taking pictures and happened to capture some guy walking out of a hotel with a woman that isn’t his wife, then that’s fair game. Maybe that guy should have left five minutes later or they should have used separate exits.
He also gives some helpful advice for home-buyers:
As for the benefit, I can offer one recent use case of my own. We’ve been searching for a new home in recent months and have sifted through listing after listing online. Thanks to Street View, we’ve been able to eliminate some of the houses we want to see because we’ve been able to “cruise around the neighborhood” and see beyond the pictures that the real estate agents post in their listings. No real estate agent is going to show you an image of a homeless shelter next door or gang members drinking 40s in the park across the street - but Google Street View will. And that saves me the trip out to that house for a drive-by look.