Google Street View: protecting your privacy

Concerns about privacy have sparked a controversy in South Africa focused on Google Street View, a visual layer which Google recently added to its Google Maps offering in South Africa and which has been available in a number of other countries worldwide for some time now.

One of the concerns about Google Street View was expressed by Managing Director of MUA Insurance, Christelle Fourie, who stated that Street View infringes on people’s right to privacy. I don’t necessarily agree with Fourie. Privacy and Google Street View is largely a question of when people have a legitimate expectation of privacy. If the Street View cameras only present imagery of views that are publicly available, there may not be a legitimate expectation of privacy and no invasion of privacy.

As its name suggests, Google Street View gives you a view of addresses you can find in Google Maps from a street level.

In the past, using Google Maps would give you the sort of map you see above (this is a map to our offices). You’ll notice that in the map view below, there is a yellow man icon in the zoom controls.

Google Maps and using Street View

Dragging that yellow man to a location on the map will give you a street level view of that specific location. Once in Street View mode you can move around, zoom in and out and get a better view of whatever you are looking for. You may also discover that there is imagery presented in Street View that concerns you. It may be imagery of your home or just something that bothers you. Google gives you a way to report a problem or concern to Google. To do this, look for the link at the bottom of the image:

Reporting a problem in Street View

Clicking on that link will take you to a form you can complete to report your concerns to Google:

Report a problem on Google Street View

I have also prepared a quick video tour of Google Street View and a demonstration of how to report a problem to Google:

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