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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Google Street View Cars on Video

According to the descriptions on YouTube, the first video is a Google Street View car in Seville, Spain, and the second is one around Palm Springs, California, US. These cars from the Google fleet have a camera mounted on top to photograph the panorama views that are later added to Google Maps. It’s like the first Googlebots spotted in the wild, and perhaps signs of a future to come in which devices of different shapes and functionality roam the streets to collect information (compare with this fiction).

Rendering all that information back to us in the many of Google’s services may hold much fascinating use; at the same time, considering that Google’s technology may advance and they say they may hand over their collected data of public or private nature to governments if required by law (and they also say they may not always disclose when that happens)*, this is a future that may also get some worried... if ever a government turns against its citizens.

In other related news, according to German Focus, Google also wants to bring Street View cars to Germany, as they are doing for other European countries. Both faces and car license plates would be blurred, Google’s Peter Fleischer argued.

[Thanks TomHTML and Hebbet!]

*Google’s privacy policy says that Google may share “personal information with other companies or individuals outside of Google” when they have “good faith belief” that it satisfies “any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request”. Furthermore, a clause in the US Patriot Act, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, contains a bit prohibiting anyone who receives a National Security Letter from “disclos[ing] to any person that the [FBI] has sought or obtained access to information or records.” Google in a PDF FAQ (which I can’t access anymore at the moment) on the question “How many subpoenas for server log data does Google receive each year?” answered, “As a matter of policy, we don’t provide specifics on law enforcement requests to Google.”


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