Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Businesses The Internet Privacy Your Rights Online

Google Street View Could Be Unlawful In Europe 248

Posted by kdawson
from the please-sign-here dept.
arallsopp writes "European data protection laws restrict the commercial use of photographs where individuals are identifiable. The law sets extra requirements for so-called sensitive personal data: it demands explicit consent, not just notification: 'If Google's multi-lens camera cars come to Europe and inadvertently find themselves taking pictures of persons leaving a church or sexual health clinic, they may just need to pull over and start picking up signatures.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Street View Could Be Unlawful In Europe

Comments Filter:
  • Well, maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AltGrendel (175092)
    ...but probably not in England.
    • Re:Well, maybe... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:05AM (#19504755)
      That's not entirely accurate; The guide [sirimo.co.uk] linked from http://www.sirimo.co.uk/ukpr.php [sirimo.co.uk] gives a very good overview of what you can and can not do with a photograph.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Handbrewer (817519)
      As far as I know, its legal in Denmark too. If you're on a public area, and you get photographed, say tourists posing in a photo and you happen to be in the background, and this photo is published on the Web, you cant demand it to be taken down.

      Next thing you know, they'd have to blur all the audiences at sports events, because *gasp* they might be televised ?

      However, that is not to say i approve of what Google is doing, i think the basic idea is good, I think some effort to at least blur out car regi
      • Re:Well, maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:38AM (#19505275) Homepage Journal
        If it said GOOGLE STREET VIEW PICTURE CAM-VAN and wasn't secretive about doing it, it would upset me that much.

        I agree that blurring license plates faces may be a good idea, but I can understand why Google doesn't wander around in a van that advertises "Hey! Do something crazy now and you'll be immortalized on Google!" Secrecy is not always a bad thing. Google just wants pictures of the streets as they are. If they advertise what they are doing the would get all kinds of crazies doing crazy/stupid/dangerous stuff.
      • As far as I know, its legal in Denmark too. If you're on a public area, and you get photographed, say tourists posing in a photo and you happen to be in the background, and this photo is published on the Web, you cant demand it to be taken down.
        I dunno about Denmark, but there's a difference between commercial use and personal use.
      • by polar red (215081)

        GOOGLE STREET VIEW PICTURE CAM-VAN
        I'm gonna follow it and try to be photographed by it as much as i can ... any1 in for a competition ?
      • by Em Ellel (523581)

        If it said GOOGLE STREET VIEW PICTURE CAM-VAN and wasn't secretive about doing it, it would upset me that much.

        Well, a friend of mine seen the van when it was doing San Francisco and mentioned it to me back then, and while he did not know about "street-view" name(product was not launched yet at the time), he said it was clear enough that it was Google van and that it was taking pictures of street with cameras. Come to think of it, I think there was even a /. article about it. Does not sound all that secretive.

        -Em

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bedonnant (958404)
      In France, it is illegal. Every person has a right to his or her own image. It is legal to take pictures of people in public places. It is illegal to publish them without written consent. I am not sure how well this law is applied, especially in the press, but this is the theory. And I also think that it is illegal to take pictures of people in a private place, without consent. That would include, say, people in their home that can be seen from the street through a window.
      • Re:Well, maybe... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Keith_Beef (166050) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:45AM (#19506317)

        As I understand it, French law specifically prohibits the publication of any image derived from a photograph taken in a public place without the consent of the person in that image, if the person is the main or only subject in that image.

        If I take a photograph of the Eiffel Tower, and you happen to be in the shot along with a few other people, I don't have to get your consent before publishing the photo, even if I gain commercially from doing so, and even if you could be recognized and identified by your face in the photograph.

        There are no doubt some guidelines somewhere about the percentage surface area taken up by the person's face, compared to the main subject (the Eiffel tower, in my example), and you could dig up some jurisprudence on the subject.

        Cas d'une photo prise devant la maison d'arrêt de la santé Dans l'hebdomadaire France Dimanche en illustration d'articles consacrés à Bernard TAPIE, alors incarcéré, figurait une photographie où l'on pouvait voir, à la droite de la famille TAPIE, un policier entrant dans une voiture en stationnement devant la maison d'arrêt de la santé. La Cour d'Appel de Paris (3) a considéré que la prise de vue était réalisée sur la voie publique, que rien ne venait isoler le policier du groupe de personnes représentées par la photographie, centrée sur la famille de Bernard TAPIE à l'entrée de la maison d'arrêt, et non sur la personne du policier dont l'identité n'était pas révélée. Elle a jugé que cette photographie illustrait un événement d'actualité auquel ce dernier s'est trouvé mêlé objectivement et de façon impersonnelle par l'effet d'une coïncidence due à des circonstances tenant exclusivement à sa vie professionnelle.

        source: http://www.scaraye.com/article.php?rub=27&sr=36&a= 270 [scaraye.com]

        Since this is so important, I'll summarize from the text.

        Bernard Tapie had been held in a prison called "la Santé" and was being released. A weekly magazine "France Dimanche" published on its cover a photo of Tapie's release. The photo showed a police officer getting into a car to the right of Tapie and his family.

        The court decided that

        • since the officer was not picked out by the framing of the photo (centered on tapie and family)
        • since the photo was taken on a public road

        there was no grounds to penalise the magazine or to compensate the office.

        Contrast this with article 226-1 of the French Penal Code, which concerns publication of photographs taken in a private place.

        l'article 226-1 CP dispose qu'"est puni d'un an d'emprisonnement et de 45.000 euros d'amende le fait, au moyen d'un procédé quelconque," de porter atteinte volontairement à l'intimité de la vie privée d'autrui, en captant (parole) ou fixant (image), enregistrant ou transmettant, sans le consentement de la personne concernée, des paroles prononcées à titre privé ou confidentiel, ou l'image d'une personne se trouvant dans un lieu privé. Le consentement est présumé lorsque ces actes ont été accomplis au vu et au su de cette personne sans qu'elle s'y soit opposée.

        source: http://www.cru.fr/droit-deonto/droit/protection-dr oits/personnalite.htm [www.cru.fr]

        Yet another commentary on this article gives the contrasting situation of a person in a public place:

        En d'autres termes, une image captée dans le cadre de la vie publique ne peut porter préjudice à quiconque.

        and goes on to:

        Le Code civil pose ensuite deux conditions : - il faut qu

        • Interesting information. I wonder also how it applies to multiple photos stitched together. If I take a few photos so as to get all of the Eiffel Tower in it, and then later stitch them together, I would think this would count as a single photo. Likewise, Street View photos are HUGE, consisting of a ton of photos all stitched together. It can't really ever be said that any one person is the main subject of the photo.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      Using it for commercial reasons is a different issue entirely to CCTV, which I'm sure is what you're referring to. And in Britain (which you seem to have confused with England), we have the Data Protection Act, which would require Google to send to anyone who asked a copy of any and all images they hold of the applicant. Don't think that just because of the CCTV that people's privacy is somehow undermined - it's there to help the population, not screw them over. But don't let me harsh your knee-jerky buz
  • by Cutriss (262920) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:58AM (#19504657) Homepage
    ...is that they will start taking multiple sets of photographs in the same locations on each street, and then splicing or otherwise removing the people present in the photos.

    This was never meant to be an exercise in snooping on people, though it has turned into an artistic representation of real life.
    • by uncoveror (570620)
      It would be easier to pixelate faces, and anything visible through a window.
    • by phayes (202222) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:03AM (#19505601) Homepage
      The French Yellowpages [pagesjaunes.fr] have had pictures of addresses with recognizable people on their website for years. Search for an address in Paris then click on "Photo" link. While the pictures are small, and usually taken early enough in the day that few people are around, if you navigate around you can find pictures of buildings with recognizable people in them.

      If these privacy kooks want to condemn google, they should have condemned FT first.
    • by zeroduck (691015)
      If it got to that point.. why not just use a distributed effort (like Amazon's Mechanical Turk?) to blur out the faces of people? It could be simple--they have an interface that would show each still frame, and a user would select the areas where faces. The user would get a few cents per image they "censor." Software blurs the faces before the images go into production, and everyone is happy.

      Hell, Google has a checkout system. They could offer this credit to users as a gift certificate--which would incr
  • by timholman (71886) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:59AM (#19504665)
    Google doesn't need consent from anyone. All they need to do is blur out the images of any people in a street scene, just like the TV networks do.

    Why is everyone making such a fuss over this when the solution is well known and trivial to implement?
    • by richdun (672214) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:01AM (#19504703)

      You have a 5-digit user number, so I won't go with the standard "You must be new here," but come on - making a fuss over problems with trivial and well-known solutions is what we do here.

    • by teslar (706653)
      Or just stop long enough so the people can move a few feet or so and then create a people-less picture from the shots thus obtained.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        This would become counter-productive.
        If you're hanging around taking such shots, you might be taken for someone with nefarious purpose.
        Worse still, you could be tagged as Google, find yourself awash in resumes, then busted for littering, as the wind disperses those little sheets of fabrication like so much political propaganda.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Yoozer (1055188)
      Blurring? I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. Smile!
    • They don't even need to go that far. The key word is "commercial."

      As far as I can see, Google Maps is a free information service. While the parent company does indeed make profit from advertising, that advertising can be deleted or ignored. Said advertising is not even on the same page, just a text link to access the advertising (on a separate page), if you wish to.

      Simply providing pictures on the internet, that may or may not have people in incriminating or embarrassing information in them, is not the sa
  • Facial Recognition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by castlec (546341) <castlec.yahoo@com> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:59AM (#19504675)
    with blur. It's that simple. They don't need an advanced algorithm to identify individual people, only one to identify that there is a person there and then apply a blur on that region of the photo. I think Google can handle it.
    • with blur. It's that simple. They don't need an advanced algorithm to identify individual people, only one to identify that there is a person there and then apply a blur on that region of the photo. I think Google can handle it.
      Yup.

      Seriously, I could whip up an algo to do just that myself, I'm sure the giant heads working at google can do it too.
      And if blurring is too high-tech, just do the classic black rectangle. No fuss at all.
    • by BobPaul (710574) *
      I'm not a fan of the blur. Millions of headless people? That's inhumanely frightening. My vote goes for placing big yellow smileys over their heads.
    • by toQDuj (806112)
      Nope, they can't. Legally, that is. Whatever post-processing you do on an image, fact remains that they, a private company, have obtained unlawful imagery.

      B.
      • by castlec (546341)
        you may be right but there are loop-holes in Article 8 of Directive 95/46
        Paragraph 1 shall not apply where:
        (c) processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the data subject or of another person where the data subject is physically or legally incapable of giving his consent; or
        (e) the processing relates to data which are manifestly made public by the data subject or is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
  • by El Cabri (13930) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:01AM (#19504695) Journal
    taking pictures of persons leaving a church or sexual health clinic


    In godless, sexually liberated Europe, I don't see that happening anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979)
      Why would you consider them godless? They love money almost as much as we do.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:30AM (#19505123) Journal
      Yes, well, see, that's just what makes it a privacy issue. Being such a godless bunch, we wouldn't want to be caught on photo coming out of a church, would we? What would our godless friends think about that? Beats having to find some quick explanation like, "I... uhh... thought it was a kinky S&M club. You know, what with the naked guy on the cross, and all." ;)
  • by Suspended_Reality (927563) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:02AM (#19504721)
    Have you seen the google van [wired.com]? A quick stop in Italy to make some modifications to the van, and you'll get that explicit consent, right boss?

    Hey Tony, get out of the van, this guy doesn't wanna sign the consent...
  • On an evening in August 1995, a 42-year-old called Geoffrey Peck attempted suicide by cutting his wrists with a kitchen knife while on Brentwood High Street in Essex, England. CCTV cameras caught the action, the council's CCTV operator alerted the police and the police intervened. Peck lived. But still images from the CCTV footage were sold by the local council to the media. Peck took his complaint as far as the European Court of Human Rights and won.

    What was he doing in front of cameras while trying to co

    • by mulvane (692631)
      From some experience in my town in various locales there, what can you do not inside your own home without a CCTV camera seeing you from some obscure angle.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by garoo (203070)
      Heh :-)

      I'm wondering if this suicide-attempt-on-film stuff is quite accurate anyway, or if there's an element of urban legend in here. I'm not sure how much it really matters to the main point of the article, but the Guardian had to apologise for making this mistake [guardian.co.uk]:

      In this article we repeated a series of errors relating to an incident involving a person who, we wrongly said, was shown on CCTV attempting suicide in the centre of Brentwood in Essex. We published a correction and apology relating to the earli
  • Silliness. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jpellino (202698) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:06AM (#19504771)
    They're walking down the street. Everyone can see them.
    They're already on 15 cameras a day according to recent numbers, and everyone has a cell camera.
    This is like the HIPAA laws in this country.
    Besides my reflux, I now have writer's cramp from filling out the HIPAA forms acknowleding that they told me they won't tell anyone what I have.
    As my doctor said, what is he going to do, run out into the parking lot and start yelling "You won't believe what JP has!"
    Plus, when you sit in the waiting room and anyone over 55 starts a conversation, it's all about what's wrong with them, and turns into a mass symptom and storytelling party.

    • There is a difference being seen, and having your image used for commercial purposes. Google are providing a commercial service, and gain income from advertisers as a result of publishing photographs containing images of people. It can be argued that they would make the same money if the images did not contain people, but that doesn't alter the fact that they are publishing pictures of identifiable people for commercial gain.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      As someone who did programming and data work, I feel compelled to tell you that you should be very happy about the HIPAA forms.

      A lot of Hospitals, doctor office, and clinics were just throwing out medical records, and the patient confidentiality wasn't really thought about outside the most obvious situations.

      Since this happens outside the patient expected base of knowledge, it didn't giv the market very many opportunities to respond. The times it could respond were always after the fact. So really to late t
      • I mind having to fill out a form from scratch - every time I visit the office - acknowledging that they told me they'll obey the law.

        I was also pointing out how ironical it might be to apparently also swear the front end to secrecy when we know how people blab their maladies anyway.

        My work here is done. The next 30 messages will dispute the usage of "ironical".

    • Nah the doctor does not want to yell in the parking lot what you have. But the health insurance companies sucked vast quantities of data about what every person has. The idea is, if some research shows that people who get cold more than twice a year will develop diabetes in five years, they will put everyone with two colds in a year in a "higher risk" category and asses higher premia. Or they could cherry pick patients and leave the government holding all the really sick patients and the health insurance co
    • by smoker2 (750216)

      They're walking down the street. Everyone can see them.

      Wrong !

      "Everyone" is a very very large number of people. And I'm not being pedantic - If you are walking down the street, a limited number of people can see you, ie. those walking the same part of the same street.
      If your photo gets posted to the internet, then anybody can see you, not restricted to those in the immediate vicinity. There is a slight difference of scale there.
      Would you like to see your face plastered on every billboard in every town in ev

      • by jpellino (202698)
        Those are very loud arguments.

        I'm not saying there should be no restrictions, but I'm not sure we're there yet.

        Google Street View is a snapshot. It's updated once in a blue moon. If anyone can track me from it, I'd be astonished.

        It produces data, not information.

        Your appearance in criminal court (or any other court) is a matter of public record, already free and unrestricted on the internet.

        These objections would apply to all the passers-by in YouTube videos, and there's no hue and cry about that. Everyo
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II (Score:2, Informative)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276)
    I think it was Kaiser Wilhelm II who first forced this kind of law at the beginning of the previous century. Apparently he had had a bad hair day photo taken and created a law...

    It would have been nice to be an Emperor, occassionally! I have had many a bad hair day.

  • You appearance on the street does not constitute "sensitive personal data" no matter where you are and what you are being photographed in front of. This is an overly alarmist article more suited for the frothing-at-the-mouth types over at Digg than here at Slashdot.
    • by robably (1044462) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:25AM (#19505077) Journal

      You appearance on the street does not constitute "sensitive personal data"
      True, but the law over here also recognizes that your appearance on the street does not constitute a consent to be photographed.

      If some people don't care whether they are photographed in public, but others do, then regardless of the law you should act considerately and ask permission before photographing someone, rather than assuming they feel the same way you do. People have no choice but to appear in public occasionally; it shouldn't be used as justification for photographing them, and the law in Europe recognizes this.
      • by Fyz (581804)
        Really? [nytimes.com]Are you talking about a fictional country called Europe here, or the moon orbiting Jupiter?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        >People have no choice but to appear in public occasionally; it shouldn't be used as justification for photographing them, and the law in Europe recognizes this.

        Yea man, what do you want us to do? wear a "robots.txt" around our necks?
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:14AM (#19504931)

    I've seen the plentiful comments about simply blurring the faces, but a quick look at the San Fran streets shows me they're not bluring the license plates. I've got a crystal clear pic of one up right now. I can even clearly see that the vehicle was purchased at 'SERRAMONTE FORD', whatever that is. It also has some kind of a work-rig on top. I wonder if those are commercial plates? A quick DMV lookup should tell me, one sec... I can't quite make out the letters on the tags, but I bet Cali uses a color-code system. They're - well you get the point.

    If they won't/can't do that, why then would they do faces?
    • by cowscows (103644)
      Just because they aren't blurring the plates doesn't mean they couldn't. They probably aren't doing it now because they don't really care either way, so why spend the time/money making that happen if you don't need to. If people start raising a big stink about it, and google starts hearing bad PR about it, then they'll probably do something about it.

      They would do faces if it was the easiest way to comply with laws that limit publishing pictures of random people on the street. The motivations aren't hard to
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mgblst (80109)
      Brilliant. You know another place I have found unblurred licence plates. Out on the street, their are hundreds of them. Surely this is some privacy violation. Something needs to be done, think of the children.

      I think there maybe a good argument against google AND Microsoft/Amazon doing this, but lets be sensible here. I am not sure that readable number plates are the biggest problem here.
      • by pclminion (145572)

        Brilliant. You know another place I have found unblurred licence plates. Out on the street, their are hundreds of them. Surely this is some privacy violation. Something needs to be done, think of the children.

        Yeah, but Google streets lets you look at a SPECIFIC LOCATION. What if I sat outside some freakish porn shop and wrote down the license plates of everybody who parked out front? Do people have a right not to have some person publish the fact that they stopped at "Whips and Grips R Us?" Maybe not, b

        • Some of you folks should think a little more before writing.

          A licence plates *entire* purpose is to prominently display the registration information (the fact that a car has a licence).

          This is not only not "secret" or "personal" information, it's the exact opposite.
          Information specifically made to be displayed at all times and acessible to all.
  • by GauteL (29207) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:17AM (#19504965)
    Some countries in Europe may have laws against photographing people, I don't know. But here we are talking about laws against publishing said photographs without express permission from the people being photographed. Many countries have such laws and the exception is typically if the person being photographed can be said to be a "public figure", in which case you are free to publicise pictures of them without permission, except if the pictures where obtained in a way that would be consider a violation of privacy (climbing over their garden fence to spy at them in their swimming pool).

    The main reason for this kind of laws is that two parties freedom are directly at odds. The freedom of the photographer and publisher has to be weighed up against the freedom and privacy of the individual.

    The laws surrounding surveillance cameras are in other words completely irrelevant in this discussion as we are talking about the right to publish rather than the right to monitor. The police state discussion is a different discussion altogether.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bedonnant (958404)
      exactly. since in France it is forbidden to publish without consent one's photograph, I was somehow surprised at this google project; and we all have seen many examples of people that, if they had a choice, would probably have declined being exposed over the whole internet in such positions. Publishing pictures is fine, but you have to respect the individual and the fact that many people do not want their faces anywhere on the internet. What one chooses to do with one's image is actually a prized individual
  • sexual health clinic ?!?

    Can somebody explain me what the author is referring to? Looks more like an hidden add for /.-ers.
  • It would seem that a warning vehicle could drive in front of the google car to warn people. However, I feel that the end result would be idiots rushing out into the street with dumb signs and the street view tool would become rather useless. Perhaps Google should just invest into technology to automatically erase people from photos.
  • by i-neo (176120) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:30AM (#19505137)
    This is not really a problem.

    Of course Google will have to implement some algorithm to avoid publishing recognizable pictures of someone. But a lot of technologies are already available to solve this problem. One of the most impressive I have seen is inpainting: once you have selected the area you wish to remove from the picture it rebuilds the missing part... There is a Gimp plugin that perform this kind of operation: http://www.manucornet.net/Informatique/Gimp_Textur ize.php [manucornet.net]

    Ah yes I almost forgot... it turns out that the author is now working at Google.
    I am pretty sure that with all those people working there they can do something about it ;)
  • Then anything that moves will be blurred, including people. Sorted!
    • by mrjb (547783)
      Exactly. All clods here suggesting facial blur only make things too complicated. Long enough exposure times and even the blurs will become invisible- it's a simple matter of signal to noise ratio.
      • by rcamera (517595)
        exactly. take a long exposure from a moving vehicle. that should blur out all of the people. and cars. and buildings. or are you recommending that they drive 10 feet, stop, take a long exposure, drive 10 feet again?
    • The Google van is a vehicle and often takes pictures while moving. Slow shutter is not an option.

      HAL.

  • 'If Google's multi-lens camera cars come to Europe and inadvertently find themselves taking pictures of persons leaving a church or sexual health clinic, they may just need to pull over and start picking up signatures.'"

    So if I'm in Paris and take a picture of Notre Dame that just happens to catch some well-known atheist leaving, and (unknowingly) post it to a blog, I'm is serious legal trouble? How absurd. I always thought Europe had way too many laws. This only confirms that impression.

    What Google i

    • by bedonnant (958404)

      So if I'm in Paris and take a picture of Notre Dame that just happens to catch some well-known atheist leaving, and (unknowingly) post it to a blog, I'm is serious legal trouble?

      Not serious. The identifiable persons could ask you to take it down, and perhaps ask for reparation. Of course if you are a company using these pictures for a commercial product, then it is far more serious and real legal trouble could arise.
      Say you are photographed by google with a finger up your nose, unaware of what's going on. Would you be comfortable with a company using that picture of you, publishing it on a very popular web service, so that anyone in the world can without any mistake identify you

      • Say you are photographed by google with a finger up your nose, unaware of what's going on. Would you be comfortable with a company using that picture of you, publishing it on a very popular web service, so that anyone in the world can without any mistake identify you as the finger-up-his-nose guy?

        The person would most likely already have that reputation, seeing as he is walking around in public with his finger up his nose.

        The solution to this problem will probably be to only take pictures when there aren

    • If our laws made what Google's doing illegal, they'd also be making most outdoor photography illegal.

      Not unless most outdoor photographs are now taken by commercial organisations with the explicit intent of cataloguing and republishing them complete with search facilities.

  • by geeche suede (264458) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:37AM (#19505243)

    I'm surprised google hasn't endeavored to capture multiple shots of locations at different times and aggregated that data to create unobstructed views along each street.

    Why allow people, cars and trucks to obstruct signage? If they don't help identify the location or give you a feel for the "street view", remove them.

    There's that tourist remover [snapmania.com] project that seems relevant.

    Privacy shouldn't even be an issue because the people simply don't need to be in the photos.

  • what if it isn't identifiable, say that the is a giant smiley face emoticon where the person's head is (or some other methond of censoring their face)?
    • by mrjb (547783)
      say that the is a giant smiley face emoticon where the person's head is Better than blurring! Now let's hope they snap a picture of ..... the Pope on a picture somewhere, getting out of a church. I bet he'd look charming with a smiley face :)
  • In France, I have heard of several cases of people who had ads banned because their house could be recognized on the photo, so advertizers now make sure to have the consent of the owners or simply photoshop fake houses over photos of empy land when they need individual homes in their ads. I don't know if it would impact massive collection.
  • by Richard Fairhurst (900015) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:53AM (#19505477) Homepage
    IANAL, obviously, but I'm the editor of a UK magazine which regularly prints pictures which happen to include people - without getting their consent. And I don't agree with TFA at all. It says that "if we're taking snaps for commercial use, where individuals are identifiable, there is no such exemption". Fine. But to back this up, it links to a report of an earlier ECJ case [out-law.com]. This report says:

    Mrs Bodil Lindqvist was an active member of her church in the parish of Alseda in Sweden. As part of a computer course Lindqvist had to set up an internet home page, and chose to create a site giving information to church parishioners. Unfortunately the pages included information about Mrs Lindqvist and 18 of her fellow church volunteers. This information included some full names, telephone numbers and references to hobbies and jobs held by her colleagues
    And according to the ECJ, this was a problem because:

    "that the act of referring, on an internet page, to various persons and identifying them by name or by other means, for instance by giving their telephone number or information regarding their working conditions and hobbies, constitutes the processing of personal data wholly or partly by automatic means within the meaning of [the Directive]."
    You see the difference with what Google's doing? Google Street View means people are identifiable. But it doesn't identify them. That's what Mrs Lindqvist did - she posted their names and phone numbers - and that's what she was fined for. So if you annotate GSV to say "this is Fred with Mary, who isn't his wife", you've infringed. But I don't see how Google, by merely posting the photos, is doing anything wrong. (French privacy law may well apply a stricter standard, of course.)
    • IANAL, obviously, but I'm the editor of a UK magazine which regularly prints pictures which happen to include people - without getting their consent.

      What TFA failed to mention is that journalism is granted an exception in the legislation.

      HAL.

      • by Oswald (235719)
        Returning us once again to the ever more important question, "What constitutes journalism?"
  • This whole thing has been done over and over again in my very European country. Reference [cyclomedia.nl].
  • Instead of inventing algorithms to detect people and cars etc, the simplest method would be (given that they are standing still to take the picture) having a longer exposure time (2-10 seconds would be ok). That way things moving get blurred automatically, stationary things would be considered part of the street.

    Another way of doing it is taking multiple identical pictures at different times and then sampling the people and other things that have moved, out of the picture by combining all the pictures and t
    • Actually, it would be better if Google could remove all moving objects from their images. Often, StreetView images of storefronts are blocked by traffic. I've seen a section where most of a block consists of a side view of a UPS van.

      This is quite feasible. I went to a talk by some of the CGI guys who did "Tokyo Drift", and they described how they got good background pictures of a major intersection in downtown Tokyo. They sent someone there with instructions to take a large number of pictures of the i

    • Uhh the van itself is moving, so long exposures wouldn't work.

      Merging together different pictures would also be very complex and errorprone, not "simple". What about different lighting conditions and slightly different van positions/angles? Far easier to just select the pictures with nothing in them by hand.
  • by simm1701 (835424) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:14PM (#19507743)
    Doesn't google know how to do a time lapse digital photography?

    If you set your shutter speed to 30 minutes its pretty rare to get any people in the image - or cars for that matter unless they are parked.

    How else do you think you get pictures of busy public buildings but without any people on them (well before the days of photoshop)

    Ok so time lapse is very old school and would probably take too long to get all the photos they want - but wouldn't some hybrid of time lapse and digital processing work quite well? (eg 10 stills over 60 seconds and an algorithm to create a composite using only the static parts?)
  • Google needs to implement a face recognition algorithm and blur them out so as to make them unrecognizable.
  • If this law is real and was actually strictly followed, lots of photographers would be out of business. Art photographers often take pictures with recognizable people of them, and publicly display them with the intent of selling them. Publishers of travel books, guides, brochures also publish pictures with recognizable people in them. News photographers do as well. All commercial, all with recognizable people. What's Google doing differently?

We are Microsoft. Unix is irrelevant. Openness is futile. Prepare to be assimilated.

Working...