Google Streets View Project Manager Speaks About Privacy Concerns

Freakonomics has an interview with Stephen Chau, the product manager for Google Maps, about Google’s new feature “Streets View” and the resulting concerns consumers have had about their privacy after several people were caught on Google’s cameras sunbathing, leaving strip clubs, or um…whatever.

3. Did you address specific privacy concerns from the outset?

At Google we take privacy very seriously. Street View only features imagery taken on public property and is not in real time. This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street. Imagery of this kind is available in a wide variety of formats for cities all around the world. While the Street View feature enables people to easily find, discover, and plan activities relevant to a location, we respect the fact that people may not want imagery they feel is objectionable featured on the service. We provide easily accessible tools for flagging inappropriate or sensitive imagery for review and removal.

Each Street View imagery bubble contains a link to “Street View Help” where users can report objectionable images. Objectionable imagery includes nudity, certain types of locations (for example, domestic violence shelters) and clearly identifiable individuals, if those individuals request takedown. We routinely review takedown requests and act quickly to remove objectionable imagery.

Chau also discusses Google’s process for removing sensitive buildings (such as domestic violence shelters) from Streets View. What do you think? Is this a violation of privacy or a useful service for consumers? —MEGHANN MARCO

Google Maps Project Manager Speaks Out On “Street View”
(Photo: Google)