Putting the Brakes on Street View

by Pekka on May 13th, 2009 in Industry and Security News.

As reported previously, Google Street View was launched in Sweden on April 21. Yesterday, BBC News reported that Greece has put "Hellenic-power-assisted brakes" on the Google camera fitted "surveillance" units while the privacy issues of the Google Street View service are debated.

This action is also affecting the local ISP, Kapou, which tried to implement a similar "street-mapping" service. BBC reports further that the "Pegman" icon, used for zooming in on the streets in Google Maps, will not be seen "hoovering" over the Pentagon area since the Pentagon, in a true moment of "Zen", considers Google Street View to be a potential security threat! The Greeks are showing the way - a Hellenic way that seems to be paved with care for the privacy of their inhabitants.

The Greeks, led by the politician Stavros Lambrinidis, also fight for the privacy of individuals in the European Parliament where the controversial Lambrinidis report was up for vote in late March. The report states that the EU should introduce a ban against a systematic surveillance of user activities on the Internet. Lambrinidis also states that a possible "Big Brother" society, most probably, will be built upon the voluntary consent provided by its residents.The privacy of individuals, along with the fundamental freedoms on the Internet, are not self-evident rights. This has been shown numerous times in history. All potential infringements of the privacy of individuals should be ventilated thoroughly in a democratic manner.

Here at Lavasoft, our company vision states that, "every computer user, regardless of economic status or geographic location, has the power to control their individual privacy and security". The Lavasoft vision is aimed towards strengthening the privacy and security of computer users by combating virus, adware, malware, spyware and other threats on global networks. We, however, also continuously strive towards making the public aware of potential privacy-violating phenomenons.

As part of that, you should be aware that you may be caught by the cameras. Take for example, that Swedish IDG.se provides "The 15 craziest photos from Google Street View". It includes photos such as this.

For those who are not able to duck from the Google Street View cameras, Google provides functions for notifying them about photos that should be removed. Google is stated to process such complaints within two hours. So, if you wish to be removed from the Google Street View feed, send your complaint to Google!


Pekka Andelin

Lavasoft Malware Labs