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Were you captured on Google Street View?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 | 4:34 pm

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Who's this on Stockwell Avenue?

By Kathy Michaels

Google’s Street View has hit the Okanagan, giving those who have a penchant for snooping from the comfort of their computer desk a bit more do.

Granted, you’re not getting a live view of all activities that litter local alleys but every once in awhile there’s potential for a gem.

A preliminary sweep shows a somewhat blurry woman on Stockwell Avenue  taking out her bottles while another shows a gaggle of cyclists congregated in front of the sails on Bernard.

While it may seem like a fun way to kill time, it’s actually a cause for concern to Micheal Vonn, policy director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

“One of the things we got complaints about almost immediately was that the algorithms in place to blur license plates and other things weren’t working,” she said.

“It’s one thing to say that all of these things can be viewed from the street, it’s another thing to be presented in a searchable way so it can be disseminated.”

So, what’s the worst a person can do with a bunch of pictures taken a year ago?

“It could be used to facilitate a crime,” said Vonn. “There are lots of good views of buildings, where balconies are readily accessible and that’s a cause for concern.”

It may be a worry for those who focus on civil liberties, but Christopher Schneider, an assistant sociology professor at UBC Okanagan says it’s unlikely we’ll see the end of the cameras because the public is largely complicit in the proliferation of privacy-reducing technology.

“Because of mass communication devices like cell phones, people are having what used to be private conversations in a public space,” he said. “A lot of individuals who are probably balking at new Google software are probably the same people who are having telephone conversations in public places that used to be private.”

That cultural shift has made way for things like Google cameras to be implemented and it’s unlikely  there will be much opposition.

“People are accepting of this because if they weren’t they would find ways to eradicate it,” he added.

It’s not just the Okanagan voyeurs can take a peek at now. Google updated its Street View service with increased coverage to more than 150 cities and towns across Canada.

The database of ground-level panoramic photographs now offers images from streets and highways in every province and territory except Labrador and Nunavut, including most of the Trans-Canada Highway system.

The update also added ski runs in Whistler, B.C., and other Olympic venues.

Wondering how to find Kelowna on Google Street View? See a short turtorial.

Were you captured on Google Street View? 5.054

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2 Responses to “Were you captured on Google Street View?”

  1. Liz says:
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  2. Laura says:
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    this is me and my mom, taking back my bottles so we can buy treats for my kids…. craziness

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link