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Smile, you’re on candid Google Street View

Thursday, February 11th, 2010 | 5:38 am

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Laura Boily of Kelowna, shown with her son Logan, was surprised to see that she turned up on the Google Street view of Stockwell Avenue. She used to live on the street and was captured by the Google camera in front of the residence sometime this past summer when they were creating the database of images of the city. (Photo Chris Stanford)

By Kathy Michaels

One Kelowna woman’s regular afternoon of housework has been forever immortalized on the web thanks to Google’s innovation and this news site’s imperative to add photos to every story.

Laura Boily wrote us, pointing out that the art accompanying a story on Google Street View coming to the Okanagan was actually a picture of her doing some chores.

“That’s me putting the stuff in the back of the van, and my mum putting the bottles out,” she said, noting the image was likely snapped last summer.

Touring through local streets with Google Street View, she is one of a number of easily visible people. While some might bemoan an invasion of privacy, Boily’s not bothered in the least.

“If you click on the photo you can see it’s me, but I don’t care,” she said. “Me and my husband looked at the picture last night, trying to see if our son was in the window or if his truck was outside as well.”

Then they had a bit more fun with Google Street View.

“It’s pretty neat,” she said. “We were looking at our other friends’ houses and we found one where it looked like they were going into the shed — but it was late, so we didn’t get too into it.”

This week, Google added more than 130 additional cities and towns across Canada to Street View on Google Maps. In addition to the Okanagan, Google has gone Olympic and posted competition venues in Vancouver and Whistler, parts of Whistler Mountain, Whistler Village, the Vancouver Athletes’ Village and Vancouver’s Stanley Park. This imagery includes the first special collection of Street View imagery in Canada.

Street View is a free feature in Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Maps for mobile. First launched in 2007, it now includes imagery from 18 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. To start exploring, simply visit maps.google.ca and zoom in to the lowest level or drag the orange “Pegman” icon from the left side of the map onto a blue-lined street.

While critics have decried the technology for its infringement on privacy, Google reps say they’ve gone to great lengths to ensure Canadians’ privacy while enabling them to benefit from Street View on Google Maps.

Street View

The feature only contains imagery that is already visible from public roads and blurs identifiable faces and licence plates. In addition, users can easily flag for removal images that they consider sensitive or inappropriate by clicking on the “Report a problem” link at the bottom of any image. Google has consulted with Canada’s federal and provincial Privacy Commissioners in developing Street View and its privacy safeguards.

kathy@kelowna.com

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8 Responses to “Smile, you’re on candid Google Street View”

  1. John Chow says:
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    They will think twice Until someone setup a dedicated site to post pictures of Google executives backyards, kids, wifes, girlfriends, etc..etc… to the point to make them realize that they are not in a exclusive club.

    All information is available in various sites like land registry, telephone directory, city records, etc…,but put them all together at once for public view is not appropriate. Google is there to make money.

  2. Sherri says:
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    I’m sorry, but if I was driving down the street, and saw the exact same thing that Google Street View displays on their website, would I be infringing on privacy?? Privacy advocates go too far. With their logic, if I’m walking down the street, anyone who watches me walk down the street would be infringing on my privacy. Ridiculous.

  3. Wake Up says:
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    Who needs big brother? Are we so vain that when we catch Google Earth spying on us we say, “hey, it’s me” instead of WTF! Come on people, this is your Canada, and the way things are going now, in 50 years we’ll all be under constant surveillance all the time. You should be outraged, not giddy that you got your pic on Google Earth.

  4. Jordan says:
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    I still think, if you aren’t doing anything wrong, who gives a S*!t. It’s not a big deal, if they want to watch my day to day activities, drive to work, work all day, and drive home, maybe going around town. WHO CARES!! Same thing with cameras downtown and all the controversy, I would rather feel safe in my town and have cameras setup then to walk around scared that I am going to get jumped or have have crack dealers selling drugs on Queensway. Get over it already and find something else to rant and rave about. The general public that obeys the law doesn’t give a crap about the cameras, or this google city. If they were going into peoples houses and filming them in intimate detail that is different, this is just fun. That is my rant for the day.

  5. Chill out says:
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    Why all the fuss about a pic of someone on the street. If you don’t like it then don’t go out in PUBLIC. Stay home and chill out.

  6. Andrew says:
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    Double-edged sword as usual. The same tech that lets us tour Pompeii from our desktop, track parolees or find crotch-bombers lets us watch school playgrounds, women’s shelters, detect mastectomy prostheses and colostomy bags.
    But Google Streetview specifically – that goes to public places and sees basically what someone with average eyesight would see, from a glaringly obvious vehicle with a big pole on top.
    Maybe hijabs and facemasks will become popular in Western culture…

  7. wrong says:
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    If you follow someone around with a camera and take pictures of them in public its called criminal harassment. Public figures etc are fair game for the camera, private citizens are not. It’s not about whether or not you’re doing something wrong, it’s about human rights – the right to walk down the street without the eerie feeling that someone – anyone – maybe government, or your boss – is or could be photographing you without your knowledge or consent.

    I get the feeling that most of the posters here have neither the hindsight nor the foresight to be able to comprehend the magnitude of social change this technology represents and what a huge loss of personal freedoms we as Canadians are experiencing.

    This isn’t just a fun new toy to play with – this is the beginning of the end of personal privacy, including in your own yard, backyard, wherever. If you give up your human right of privacy for security, then you lose both: someone who wants to hurt you won’t be stopped by a camera. Someone who wants to steal from you wont be deterred by a camera. Chances are, a camera wont be around when you need it anyway.

    It’s a trade-off of human rights for a false sense of security – a camera doesn’t stop a determined criminal nor will it prevent harm from coming to you. So what is accomplished? Loss of privacy and little if any increase in security. Doesn’t sound like a fair trade to me.

  8. Laura says:
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    everyone should just be thankful we live in canada, alot of place’s are alot worse. why would i care if a picture of me got taken while being outside doing something harmless enough, its not like i got filmed having my babies and even then people don’t care

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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