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    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Freak On The Street

    On the Freakonomics Blog, our heroes spend some time with Stephen Chau, one of the wizards at Google Maps behind Google Street View - the application that allows you to see a street level view on Google Maps - which has caused a full Internet freak-out over at Boing Boing and several other websites.  Check out Street View.  It's... impressive.
    Here's Mr. Chau on privacy concerns:
    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.

    Street View invokes mixed emotions from me; I admit a little bit of a freak out when I noticed that most of my neighborhood was mapped on Street View, then a little relief when I noticed that they didn't have MY streets mapped.  On the other hand, I'm awestruck.  The only problem that I see is when our friends in the government start using a souped up version of street view for surveillance.
    I'm quite sure that's next unless someone at Google commits to a smackdown of that idea with the quickness.  Money does talk, though.
    Do no evil.  Don't let me down, guys.



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