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Google Street a Slice of Dystopian Future? 325

Posted by Zonk
from the they-see-you-man dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to a recent CNET article, Google Street View 'is just wrong'. The short piece which makes up part of a larger feature about 'technology that's just wrong' goes on to explain that Google Street View is like a scene from George Orwell's terrifying dystopian vision of 1984 and that it could ultimately change our behaviour because we'll never know when we're being watched. 'Google? Aren't they the friendly folk who help me find Web sites, cheat at pub quizzes, and look at porn? Yes, but since 2006 they're also photographing the streets of selected world cities and posting the results online for all to see. It was Jeremy Bentham who developed the idea of the Panopticon, a system of prison design whereby everybody could be seen from one central point, with the upshot being that prisoners learnt to modulate their behaviour — because they never knew if they were being watched. And that doesn't sound like much fun, does it?'"
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Google Street a Slice of Dystopian Future?

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  • by shankarunni (1002529) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:43PM (#22638098)
    I love it when arts majors try to emulate Orwell and struggle hard to dream up "dystopian" scenarios in anything and everything to appear sophisticated in the eyes of their colleagues..

    God only knows we are living in dystopian times, with our society under attack from left, right, and corporate interests which don't fit into any pat category..

    But Google street view is hardly a "live view" where neighbors snoop upon each other. It's just a one-time snapshot of a spot. If you happen to be bonking someone on the street just at that moment, and don't want your face (or whatever) on camera, tough. Do it indoors..
    • by techpawn (969834)

      If you happen to be bonking someone on the street just at that moment, and don't want your face (or whatever) on camera, tough. Do it indoors..
      Yeah, but wasn't there something a while back about google street also getting snaps in as high as second story windows and of girls sunbathing?
      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:50PM (#22638254) Journal
        "Yeah, but wasn't there something a while back about google street also getting snaps in as high as second story windows and of girls sunbathing?"

        Citation Needed .... and Pictures if possible.
        • by techpawn (969834)
          Okay... Here ya go [nytimes.com] You wanna find the google girls, do ya own leg work...
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by geekoid (135745)
            I'm more of a breast man...

            But if your windows are open, people are free to look in. I love the jump from Cat on window sill to 'knowing what I am reading'.
            Logical fallacy for the WIN!

            • by techpawn (969834)

              But if your windows are open, people are free to look in.
              I have a feeling we've gone down this road before, but...
              If my curtains are open and I see someone I have the option of closing them or calling the cops. I can expect privacy in my own home. With the Google van driving by unknown to me how do I close my curtains?
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Otto (17870)
                If your curtains are open, then you do not have an expectation of privacy.

                How about closing your curtains when you want to be private and not closing them when you don't? What's so hard about that? Your privacy is completely under your control.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by techpawn (969834)

                  If your curtains are open, then you do not have an expectation of privacy.

                  And that actually plays into the article. We feel we must ALWAYS keep our curtains drawn or that we're being watched and if that the curtains are drawn that something naughty or wrong is taking place behind them.

                  What takes place is my home is my business, windows open or not. You should not be looking in unless you want other looking in your home as well. If we've reached that point then it's too late and google is the least of our

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by hardburn (141468)

                    People also have the right to be able to walk down any dark alley in the world and not get mugged. However, we can't reasonably expect this.

                    If you want a reasonable expectation of privacy, shut your blinds.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                      by Animaether (411575)
                      "People also have the right to be able to walk down any dark alley in the world and not get mugged. However, we can't reasonably expect this."
                      I don't see why we can't expect that. Just because society at large has come to accept dark alley muggings as a part of life doesn't mean it's right or should be tolerated the way it is. Perhaps if it were cracked down on more, or dark alleys were, well, not quite such dark alleys (a little light goes a long way), then perhaps we can all reasonably expect to be safe
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Woundweavr (37873)

                If my curtains are open and I see someone I have the option of closing them or calling the cops. I can expect privacy in my own home. With the Google van driving by unknown to me how do I close my curtains?

                In the same manner you would if you don't see someone? If your enacting of 'privacy' is reactive, its your own fault. If I leave my fly down and someone sees my X-men underwear and then I zip up my fly, I don't see how that is more or less a violation of privacy than if I don't notice someone seeing the

                • by Z34107 (925136) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:12PM (#22641090)

                  Please disseminate this knowledge across my campus.

                  I live in a dorm that has two wings - one for the men, one for the women, and a common lounge/entrance/exit in the middle connecting them. Makes sense, right?

                  The dorm is U-shaped, (Men-> |_| <-Women from the Google satellite view) and the women never seem to close their shades.

                  Not that I mind, of course, but it's bad if I forget to close my blinds when friends or parents visit. The view can be interesting at certain times...

      • by Rakishi (759894) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:17PM (#22638804)
        1. If google can see into your window from street level then so can anyone else. Amazingly google is not the only entity in the universe with cameras and I'm sure a lot of people make it a "hobby" to take picture through open windows. Hell the "looking into neighbors windows with telescope" thing has been around for how many decades now as a TV plot point.
        2. If you sunbathe in public then see point 1 as well.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drx (123393)
          Why this always comes up again and again, that it is the same if Google or your neighbours are watching?

          If you sunbathe in your neighbourhood there is the chance that 20 people see it, once Google goes around there is the chance that 2000000000 people see it. So the risk of embarrassment increases dramatically, people will stop sunbathing. That is a real effect.

          What is so difficult about getting this?
    • But Google street view is hardly a "live view" where neighbors snoop upon each other. It's just a one-time snapshot of a spot.
      For the time being. Technology marches on...

      How shall the new environment be programmed? It all happened so slowly that most men failed to realize that anything had happened at all.
      - THX1138
    • Yeah I agree. You know what? Somebody could be watching you RIGHT NOW. In fact, I can just look out my window and see some people in the offices across the way that could be looking at me. They could take pictures and post them on the internet! Oh noes! Welcome to the real world, where at some point, a lot of your actions are in the public view. Just ask all those congresspeople that get caught cheating or picking up hookers, ask 'em where their privacy is. The big difference between the government
      • by techpawn (969834)
        What are you trying to say? That just because I think they're all out to get me doesn't mean that they aren't?
      • by computational super (740265) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:34PM (#22639142)

        I often wonder about what will become of all of this. Typically, when somebody starts dicsussing the "Big Brother sees all" dystopian future, somebody else retorts with the classic "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" rhetoric. Since it seems clear that, ultimately, we're going to end up in this position no matter what we do, I wonder which part will change... will we all end up in fear, or will we all end up with nothing to hide?

        It seems to me that there are a lot of things that all of us do which, although we may not be afraid of an execution or a prison term if we get caught, we would at the very least be embarrassed about if exposed. A lot of our social mores and most "morality"-based laws tend to persist because the chances of getting caught are so slim. Perhaps society will, unexpectedly, end up changing for the better overall if everything is out in the open - if everybody gets caught doing everything, we might suddenly end up getting a lot more reasonable about what we care about catching each other doing.

        Obviously, that's not going to work for you and me - we're too used to things the way they are. But since it looks like our grandchildren's generation isn't going to understand the very meaning of the word "privacy", I can only hope that the end result is a world where you don't really need any.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kadin2048 (468275)
          I think you're making a rather strained assumption, namely that technology will always overpower individuals' attempts to retain or preserve their privacy using the same sort of technologies that destroys them in the first place. And I don't think there's any evidence for that. There will always be ways to hide things you don't want others to know about; in fact I'd argue that technology offers a lot more ways of living out your fantasies without anyone (who knows you in real life) knowing, than in some h
    • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:52PM (#22638316)
      You obviously aren't a member of the Illuminati or you'd know of the secret live update version of Google Street. In fact, this version is so powerful, it's not limited to streets.

      I'm watching you right now.

      JESUS! Will you put a shirt on that back?
    • by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:57PM (#22638416)
      If you happen to be bonking someone on the street just at that moment, and don't want your face (or whatever) on camera, tough.

      Actually, Google Street View has a "report" option that lets users report obscene happenings or persons faces that don't want to be on the site.
    • by LilGuy (150110)
      Agreed. This is just rampant ill-informed paranoia.
    • by ajs (35943)

      But Google street view is hardly a "live view" where neighbors snoop upon each other. It's just a one-time snapshot of a spot.
      What's more, THIS IS NOT NEW! There are tons of real estate databases out there that have images of most of the houses in urban U.S. areas. Google's novelty here is in making the images available through a map-browsing interface.

    • I don't think it's meant to be taken seriously. I mean, "a giant audio-visual shark"? And look at the picture. Made me laugh and I (very peripherally) have worked on Street View. Other entries in the competition: teledildonics, films on phones and guitar hero.

      Slashdot needs to lighten up, oh, and maybe RTFA from time to time :)

    • Dystopian future? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      God only knows we are living in dystopian times

      "Dystopian" is relative. Compared to my youth, yes. Compared to my Grandpa's youth and all times before, no.

      Since mankind's past is dystopian, why shouldn't the future be?

      But wait - we already live a utopian future, at least most of us in an industrial country. We have pleasures and gadgets and things kings of old couldn't even dream of! 100kph surface travel, flight, far fewer deadly diseases, refrigeration, television, telephones, you name it.

      We don't burn p
  • by Em Ellel (523581) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:44PM (#22638124)
    One picture in 6 mos to a year video surveillance does not make. Now those ATM and security cameras that have been around for 20 plus years EVERYWHERE are not scary, but GOOGLE's once a year picture - now thats BIG BROTHER for you... Dodos..

    -Em

    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:50PM (#22638268) Homepage Journal
      Or, heck, you can just go to London and be on camera 24/7 outside of your flat.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:50PM (#22638274) Homepage
      Yup, funny that they think that the 24/7 video system in the UK is not big brother esque.

      Honestly anyone that is at all interested in privacy have been screaming and yelling for over a decade now. suddenly some guy that has had his head in the sand realizes that things have changed and screams the sky is falling is newsworthy?

      Even in the USA, you are on camera way more than you think. Police cars record 24/7 now. stores, malls, parking lots, street corners.. Cameras are everywhere watching you.
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:51PM (#22638304)
      The difference, as far as I can tell, is that Google's pictures are available to everyone, whereas the ATM cameras are not (coincidentally, many security cameras' feeds can be found on Google).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gonarat (177568) *

      Thank you! I have looked up my house using Google maps and I can still see my in-laws Camper and Truck sitting in my driveway. They sold both several years ago. So unless Google has bought some satellites and has started doing real time of selected cities, I don't think we need to worry quite yet. I would be more worried about cities networked with cameras (like London) where the powers-that-be can follow you around the city. I don't think those cameras are hooked up to Google (yet)instead of a van goi

    • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:03PM (#22638570)
      One picture in 6 mos to a year video surveillance does not make.

      True, but it only takes one picture to embarrass somebody, to catch a crime in progress, or to simply show an individual in a location where they're rather it not be known they are. Many people are already aware that Street View captured the results of more than one [jalopnik.com] automobile accidents [google.com]. How would you like to be immortalized [google.com] for riding your bike down the street, unaware that Google just snapped a picture of you showing your jeans riding down your backside?

      Security cameras like those in ATM's have very limited visibility & range, and most people know they are there. The contents of those tapes also aren't generally available to the public. They most likely would need a court order to obtain. How would you like it if the whole world could simply go to Google and see a photograph of you walking into a motel with a prostitute, leaving a strip club, getting mugged on the side of the street, or caught in the act of accidentally hitting somebody in a crosswalk with your car? It's that kind of publicity that most people are concerned about.

      Given that Google, MSN, etc. are doing this I bet it's just a matter of time before police start mounting cameras on their patrol cars as a means to identify illegal behavior that the officers in the car might miss. How would you like to get a ticket in the mail a week after a police car driving by takes a photo of you jaywalking? That's the sort of thing this could eventually lead to, and that's not what most people want.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Em Ellel (523581)

        True, but it only takes one picture to embarrass somebody, to catch a crime in progress, or to simply show an individual in a location where they're rather it not be known they are. Many people are already aware that Street View captured the results of more than one automobile accidents . How would you like to be immortalized for riding your bike down the street, unaware that Google just snapped a picture of you showing your jeans riding down your backside?

        Yes and it takes one web form [google.com] to get that one picture removed, unlike millions of pictures snapped by tourists each year that have lots of extra people in the shot that may live forever and you will not even know they have the picture of you online. Evil, evil tourists.

        -Em

      • by Sciros (986030)
        Ok...

        1) there's a "report" feature in Street View where you can ask to have images removed. Not a big deal.

        2) they're photos of public places. if you don't want something you do in public to be seen, best not to do it in public to begin with. i think folks having *more* (than those in the immediate surroundings) people see their public mishaps is a small price to pay for the convenience everyone gets of being able to take a virtual tour of any city.

        3) there are already countless intersections with cameras s
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Iphtashu Fitz (263795)
          1) there's a "report" feature in Street View where you can ask to have images removed. Not a big deal.

          Who decides if an image should be removed or not? Who gets to make the request? How can any individual expect to know that Google has a picture of them sunbathing that they'd rather not have made publicly to the entire world, that may show up on sites like www.streetviewfun.com for voyeurs to get a kick out of?

          2) they're photos of public places.

          And some of those photos show the interior of private houses,
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by h4ck7h3p14n37 (926070)

        Given that Google, MSN, etc. are doing this I bet it's just a matter of time before police start mounting cameras on their patrol cars as a means to identify illegal behavior that the officers in the car might miss. How would you like to get a ticket in the mail a week after a police car driving by takes a photo of you jaywalking? That's the sort of thing this could eventually lead to, and that's not what most people want.

        Chicago already does this. They have vans with cameras on top that record the lice

    • What's funny is that this is exactly the same reaction that people have towards video games, the internet as a whole and comic books. Since it's new it's instantly more worrisome than what's already been there, even if what's already there is pretty bad. It's the well known tendency for people to overestimate the risks of unfamiliar dangers.

      Overall this is a good thing, though. People need to be a little worried about online privacy so that they can get up in arms about something that crosses the line. B
  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:45PM (#22638138)
  • Ok for now (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:46PM (#22638160)
    Google takes a photo like once every 6months. You are NOT being watched. It is NOT a spy camera. You should NOT be doing anything bad visible from the street. If you are jerking off outside on main street as a giant van with cameras rolls by. Well i'm sorry, your well kept secret is out. Points are:

    A: They do it from a perfectly public location that many people will pass daily.
    B: It is not a surprise, they aren't using spy technology it is a giant google van.
    C: No laws are broken, why gang up on google about it, bring it to the house and see what happens (i can't imagine taking pictures outdoors being made illegal).
  • I'm OK with it if we really get to see everyone AND we get to know who is AND _was_ watching who :). That means some logs are kept on the watchers.

    Basically it settles who watches the watchers - anybody if they have nothing better to do.

    No fair if a Privileged Few get to opt out and we don't.
  • by ecloud (3022) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:47PM (#22638172) Homepage Journal
    A van drives down the streets once and takes pictures. Maybe in a few years they'll do that again. Now if you happened to be in one of them maybe you'd have some feelings about that, but one snapshot of you every few years hardly amounts to a surveillance society.

    Why aren't people more optimistic? This is a sort of poor telepresence: you can get a small part of the experience of traveling to some cities without actually going there.
  • ...do not always have a camera in them. They work on the same principle of providing the possibility that you're being watched.

    The effectiveness is probably going to drop significantly when the watched know they outnumber the watchers to such a degree that there's no way to track them all even if they're in view. Whether or not this is useful in a prison would really depend on the cost of implementing this centralized mass-surveillance over adding guards(who would also be on hand to stop what's being seen a
  • Big difference (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NewAndFresh (1238204) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:47PM (#22638190)
    The difference between 1984 and Google is that google allows anybody to view the street.
    Sorry, google just doesn't feel like "big brother." Nor does it seem to be going in that direction.
    • "Sorry, google just doesn't feel like "big brother." "

      A true big brother wouldn't seem obtrusive to most people. Orwell's hero was the exception to the rule.

      I do agree with you, since it is a snap shot of a moment in time(redundant, I know) and can't be used for monitoring, and correcting behavior's. PLUS it's done very infrequently, to infrequently to have the effect that mention in the write up.
  • by spleen_blender (949762) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:47PM (#22638192)
    What value is a face with no name, or a street on which you know not a single person? Data only has value when used in conjunction with known facts, and the only people in the end who are going to be burned by such knowledge are the ones who reject it instead of learning how to use it for their own and other peoples' benefits.

    Furthermore, at least google has its images of public space open for people to view at all times. If you wanted to look through a government owned public camera do you know where to go, who to ask? Can you even get permission to observe those feeds? There is always a bigger bogeyman lurking around each corner, so at least meet him on your own terms instead of waiting for him to come at you when you least expect it.
  • by avronius (689343) * on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:47PM (#22638198) Homepage Journal
    I've flipped through the article and the little pictures. It would seem that the authors are trying to put an "It Came From The Deep" feeling against technology [and materials] that they don't currently see a market for or appreciate the market force behind. It's not unusual for people to fear things that they don't understand.

    It is, however, unusual for a Tech publication to attempt to use fearmongering as a tool to bring attention to technology that their writers don't fully understand.

    I can only hope that this piece was not meant to reflect that attitude of all of the writers over at cnet - it's certainly not flattering.

    - Avron
  • No need to RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Phylarr (981216) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:47PM (#22638200)
    Since the whole damn thing is contained in the summary.

    It would be nice if the authors had explained why they thought they had a right to privacy when in public, or whether they believed that Google was taking pictures inside people's houses. But I guess a fear mongering rant was what they were in the mood for instead.
    • It would be nice if the authors had explained why they thought they had a right to privacy when in public, or whether they believed that Google was taking pictures inside people's houses.

      But some of the Street View images CAN in fact see inside houses and other buildings. You'll find just a few examples here [streetviewfun.com]. So what do you do about these peoples right to privacy now? Tell them to keep their doors closed and curtains drawn? Just imagine as the technology used to get these pictures improves. You'll prob
  • Not google's fault (Score:3, Insightful)

    by delirium of disorder (701392) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:48PM (#22638210) Homepage Journal
    For decades, corporations and government have had the technology to watch us. Google has allowed normal people to see that kind of data. We can now not only see personal details about each other, but also spy on our bosses and "leaders". Google (and search/database technology in general) has an amazing democratic potential.
  • ...a system of prison design whereby everybody could be seen from one central point, with the upshot being that prisoners learnt to modulate their behaviour -- because they never knew if they were being watched...

    I think the closest thing to this prison is reality tv. The cast is constantly surrounded by film crews and cameras. And one of the common threads in post-show interviews is that the "actors" forget about the cameras. They admit, that at first, they are very conscious of them, and moderate the

  • by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdotNO@SPAMexit0.us> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:48PM (#22638224) Homepage
    I looked up my home address and the Google Street View was off by about 10 house numbers. With that kind of inaccuracy, I'm not worried about it.
    • You can move it now (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gorimek (61128)
      If your home address is off in Google Maps, you can now move it yourself. Try it, it works!

      You can of course use the same feature to hide it, if you are so inclined.
  • Have you ever... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jikrschbaum (920529)
    had a job where you need to drive somewhere you have no clue what the landmarks are etc. As a field tech, street view is a nice bonus. When I can use it I use it. If it reduces my blood pressure a couple points then maybe I get to live an extra year. And besides it is hardly real-time. I don't see protests of businesses that put webcams in their store fronts.
  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:50PM (#22638266) Homepage Journal

    My apartment is visible on Google Street View, which I found a bit unsettling because the street it's off isn't really a street. But Google drove down it and took pictures. It was on Google Maps, after all. Thankfully my blinds were down that day so you can't see inside, but you can see the outside.

    On the other hand, that's one instant of time a good year or so ago. It's not constantly updating. It's not like there are cameras inside my apartment constantly watching me. It's not exactly dystopian, just somewhat unsettling.

    Now if it were constantly updating, allowing people to follow my car around, then I would be worried. Otherwise I don't really care.

    On the other hand, for the most part, Google Street View is mostly useless. It doesn't really offer any information that you can't get from the satellite view. I frequently go over unknown routes using Google Maps (or Google Earth - same diff) but I have never really found street view to be that useful. There are probably some [google.com] exceptions [google.com], though.

    (The second one is actually worse than it appears on street view, since it used to be a rotary, and they haven't made a complete circuit. Go ahead, try and guess which lane is which from the satellite image.)

  • There are plenty of cities around the world that have extensive surveillance networks, the worst IMO being London. In DC, there's the network of microphones that were only supposed to be hooked up to gunshot detectors, but hey since they're already there let's use them to supplement our network of video cameras.

    Google doesn't care what you do, and they don't have a real time view of it. Your local government may, and this is what we should be fighting against. 1984 and The Right to Read are old hat.
  • This can have good and bad consequences.

    1) Bad behavior will stop, because people won't want to be seen/recorded doing bad things.
    2) Good behavior will stop, because people won't want to be seen/recorded doing those things, because a significant number of people think it's bad anyway.
    3) Some bad behavior will be reconsidered/redefined as good, because people will realize that everyone does it and it's harmless anyway.
    4) Some bad behavior will be encouraged, because enough people want to see it that it w
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:55PM (#22638364)
    Google is giving access to StreetView (and pretty much every other service) to EVERYONE. This is NOT the same as some big-brother, 1984 scenario.

    Don't you think you would change your mind, maybe just a little bit, if all the surveillance cameras in the UK had a website that allowed you to view everyone, just like the "watchers" ?

    My problem is, and always has been, that certain people think they are "higher above" others. That's why you get the classic public "surveillance", where a select few watchers have access to all of the cameras, and no one else.

    But what if everyone had access to it? I would be totally for that. It would even the playing field. Not that there's any game to play, but at least we have access to the same technology the big-brother "watchers" had, and that makes me feel like I'm not so much under a microscope, but part of a community.

    Google Street Views is NOT the one to attack. Google is doing everything the right way - they're giving us ALL access to information. Isn't that what we want??
  • My god man, the oh noes of it all.... First off... does anyone remember amazons A9 system... which also had a street level view attached to a map? Google is great, but they didnt pioneer everything. And i certainly dont remember an uproar about that.

    In any case, Orwellian? jeez... Ive found the street level view exceedingly helpfull looking for Real Estate, finding certain stores (from memory) and tons of other things youd be quite thrown off to think would be helpful... Does a single shot of a public tree
  • Wasn't the time to complain about Google's evil street view months/years (?) ago when they introduced it? I mean...it's not like concerns are suddenly no longer valid, they just aren't really topical or 'news' anymore.

    I'm torn about Google street view. It isn't like it is filling a valid need (although neither was google earth, but that was cool). I don't have a burning desire to see what the storefront to X restaurant looks like. I should expect that the restaurant will be at the address listed. I cou
    • by geekoid (135745)
      I love it. I didn't think I would, but being able to see what it looks like as I approach an address is nice, and getting big landmarks is a great way to find the place in case the route mapped out is unavailable for you.

      The best thing is that I get my, direction impaired friends to use it, and the don't seem to get lost as often.

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:58PM (#22638448)
    That's terrible! We haven't even figured out how to prevent these buildings that are out in the open and easily observable from public places from being seen by every day passers-by. And now we can see them on the internet too? What is the world coming to?

    Oh, and open the borders, and photographers should have rights to take pictures of copyrighted works displayed in public.
  • This is sort of a last-year issue.

    Last year, I was living in an area of Silicon Valley that was covered by Google's van. There's good coverage of my house. Really good coverage. You can see both cars in the driveway and read the license plates. You can, just barely, see me in profile through a window.

    I don't really mind.

  • To quote Foghorn Leghorn, "It's a joke, son."

    The 1960's era horror picture of a screaming teen?? Rating things on a scale of "David Bowie" to "David Blane"? Claiming the internal combustion engine is "just wrong" because it runs on tiny explosions? The article is tongue in cheek. The author is poking fun at unreasonable fears on the one hand, and on the other poking fun at technologies that get on his nerves (Twitter et. al.) by calling them offensive to human sensibility and threats to the earth.
  • Its a SINGLE PAGE out of one of those shitty Ten that lists. Jesus fucking christ.
  • As much as this dystopian future bothers me, and as much as I fear the use of this information in the wrong hands, I'm beginning to realize that it is inevitable. You probably have a camera in your pocket right now (cell phone) in addition to a real camera you may have, and a webcam that is built in to your laptop. That's three cameras per person in an industrialized city. The government has its eyes too. Private businesses also put up cameras to deter/catch theft.

    There are just too many cameras. The

  • Maybe it's me but I fail to see how a map so advanced that you can actually see the building you want to go to is bad. Also the whole purpose is not to monitor people, unlike the camera's that the city of Chicago is putting up at pretty much every intersection. It's not like the images from the van's are uploaded instantly and they have one on every block of the city. It really annoys me when people always look at every tech like it's going to be skynet or 1984, tech is basically to make our lives better,
  • What a load. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Penguin Programmer (241752) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:02PM (#22638550) Homepage
    You've got to be kidding me. Anyone who thinks that Google Street View is like 1984 is a moron.

    There are two enormous differences between Google Street View and Big Brother:
    1) Google takes pictures for street view every now and then. It's by no means real-time. If someone looks up my address and sees me out mowing my lawn, the only thing they know is that sometime in the past year, I mowed my lawn.
    2) Google takes pictures only in public places. Guess what, everyone can see you there anyway, and in many cities you're probably already on an actually live video feed. You're not being watched any more than you already were!

    Are there really no better conspiracy theories to post today? Come on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      [blockquote] Guess what, everyone can see you there anyway[/blockquote]

      Except under normal circumstances, everyone can't see you. When you are "public view", only the people in the near vicinity can see you, and that's the expectation that you have. In a lot of situations you would certainly behave differently if you had the expectation that EVERYONE, from your mother to the police could see you.

  • by end15 (607595) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:03PM (#22638560)
    IMHO we already live in a dystopian future. It's not exactly Orwellian in nature at this point and it seems that a more critical distinction would need to be made. I don't think that Orwell's control systems were simply about technology, it was much more about how the state used the technology. In San Francisco there are already cameras all over the place. Everything we do is already tracked. Your cell phone has a GPS built into it that can track you at all times. That tracking information may never disappear and could be used now or any time in the future. I'm not saying throw your cell phone out but be aware of what you already have committed to. That said I think it's important that we recognize how the technology is currently used, how it's been abused in the past, and how it could be abused in the future. In the case of 1984 Winston Smith did not have access to the technology, he was only subject to it. In our case we are subjects of the technology but we still have access to it. That alone is an important distinction, and belies a very different program (we're more interesting to marketers than spies). I think it's important to questions Google or any other entity that further erodes privacy in any manner. Who's using it? How is it being used? Can we choose to opt out? When and where can we choose to opt out? Is this patently invasive technology or not? For instance when the NSA hires/forces/steals Googles information on citizens domestically then the use issue becomes something important for the republic to question. I think it's important to get away from our impulsive reactionary response to "Orwellian Future" and start thinking critically about what we are really dealing with. Orwell would write a very different book if he were alive today, and we should start thinking in those terms.
  • A Pointless Rant (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timholman (71886) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:06PM (#22638604)
    This CNET article misses the point entirely. Google is not, and never will be, the problem. The problem is going to be the following:

    (1) The local city government monitoring your car at every intersection and every stretch of road, and mailing you a ticket every time you exceed the speed limit by 5 mph or fail to beat the red light by 0.01 seconds. Go drive around the Phoenix suburbs and you'll see your future. You can pick up half a dozen robo-tickets just driving to the local mall and back.

    (2) Every local business and every neighbor on your street recording you every time you go out for a stroll or take your dog for a walk.

    (3) Your own spouse/parents/children/significant other putting you under 24/7 surveillance without your knowledge "for your own good".

    The "Death of Privacy" scenario is inevitable, thanks to Moore's Law. And it won't be Google or the federal government doing most of the watching - it will be your family members, or the people in your neighborhood, or the folks running the local business nearby, or the city councilperson you voted for, because every one of them will rationalize that no one is really being hurt, and because the technology will make it so easy to do that they won't be able to resist the temptation. You won't be able to stop this trend any more than the RIAA and MPAA can stop unauthorized digital distribution of music and movies.
    • Re:A Pointless Rant (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blhack (921171) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:03PM (#22639736)

      (1) The local city government monitoring your car at every intersection and every stretch of road, and mailing you a ticket every time you exceed the speed limit by 5 mph or fail to beat the red light by 0.01 seconds. Go drive around the Phoenix suburbs and you'll see your future. You can pick up half a dozen robo-tickets just driving to the local mall and back.
      This is a safety problem.
      I live in Old Town Scottsdale (a phoenix suburb with lots of shops and bars and stuff that you can actually *WALK* to) so i do a lot of walking around intersections and stuff. All of the intersections have those red light cameras on them, and there is almost ALWAYS a photo radar van parked somewhere around old town.
      When people see these things, they stop paying attention to anything that is going on around them EXCEPT for the van/camera/light.
      What is more dangerous?
      Somebody running a red light by a half a second or so, or somebody stomping down on their Huge lifted escalade (uhg..) to try and speed up and make it through the yellow light without getting a ticket.

      Tempe (another suburb, home to ASU) is even WORSE. They recently installed stationary cameras on Rural(scottsdale rd) just north of University. Anybody from this area knows that this is one of the busiest areas in tempe (traffic wise). It is the main route into and out of ASU.
      Well, when you're in thick traffic, driving 50mph, and suddenly the person who is just in town visiting sees the camera and slams on the brakes all the way down to 20mph without any warning (except brakelights) it causes accidents.
      Lots of them.

      When did we get to vote on this matter?
      And who the hell voted FOR it?
  • by kabocox (199019)
    We've always had this... You are watched by everyone else. They aren't really out to get you, but if you act too stupid or do something too annoying then you'll be sorry!

    Society works because everyone wants/tries to control everyone else's behavior. Behavior that we don't like, we label as childish, stupid, anti-social, or criminal.

    I don't care anymore that we are building God or at least Omnius. God is supposed to observe and control everything. We are far from building God. Omnius was limited to watching
  • by glyn.phillips (826462) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:07PM (#22638644)
    Since when do you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you are visible from a public street?

    I'm going to take a wild guess here: Some folks have never lived in a small town.
  • Bentham's Panopticon (Score:2, Informative)

    by l0ss (632200)
    While Bentham did theorize the panopticon as a penal architecture, it's important to note that it was also intended by Bentham to be an architecture for the workplace - a disturbing paralell. Regardless, it was Foucault's analysis (and not Bentham's own, which saw the panopticon as an unproblematic moral reformatory) of panoptic architecture that developed the most cogent discussion of how power works (in corrosive ways) within the panopticon. Foucault's discussion has routinely been applied to critiques
  • how many people are sitting at computers that have mics and cameras trained on them that may be remotely controlled? how many have telephones in their homes and offices with speakerphone mics that may be remotely controlled? how many are using networks where every transaction is logged? how many have tracking systems in their cars? welcome to OnStar [vortex.com]. at least when Google takes street view pictures, they publicize them and share them.
  • They are still there you know. Down in their silos. Waiting to show us all the real meaning of 'dystopian'.

    But hey, lets worry about Google Streets.
  • Google's work only brings one more camera to the street. In most urban areas people are already photographed day and night. Banks, stores, city government, transportation departments, tourists, spy sats. and on and on. Everyone has a camera on me.

    Or maybe I'm just paranoid?

    Anyway, One more camera won't really hurt that much.
  • "...Come a day there won't be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well not be another. So here's us, on the raggedy edge."

    Ironically, found using Google.
  • ...its most critical point is this (emphasis added):

    The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience."

    Bentham himself described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a

  • Is there any proof that the FBI wasn't already doing this, and just not letting you see it yourself?
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:30PM (#22639038) Journal
    The lecture went "hahaha - we all know know about surveillance, right??? So, let's pretend I'm tired of living here and I want to move back home. let's look at realtor.com - I'll need a place to live. Oh look - a nice house in the neighbourhood I want. Cool. click on that, and oh - look - the interior of the place is photographed. Nice kitchen - big bathroom. Ugly carpet, but I can change that. And that credenza? Urp - that'll have to go. But that's OK. Now - let's see what the neighbourhood is like. Excellent. Google Street goes right by the place. so we'll enter the address and look wher ewe are. Oh - we're right in front of the building. nice - and look! The PEOPLE ARE MOVING OUT OF THE HOUSE. There's the moving van parked right in front. Excellent! And there's the neighbour - I recognise him because I used to live around the block from here back in the late 90s. Cool..."

    At this point the class (a mass lecture of 150) got quiet...

    "Oh, and look in his window! See that lamp? The guy who lived upstairs from me used to own that, and he gave to the guy who lives there. I remember that - it's a nice lamp and it was a great day. We all sat around drinking beer. Oh - just like the guy down on the corner over there."

    We zoom down the street to the corner.

    "Yeah - I recognise him - lousy stupid drunk. Really bad attitude. Never liked him."

    "So that was fun, wasn't it kids? Dropping in on their lives, looking into their homes? Nice. so, now let's open up a new tab and I'll type in http://www.opentopia.com/hiddencam.php [opentopia.com] and look here - links to CCTs we can look through. Excellent. Click on this one, and look - we get CONTROLS- we can move and zoom the camera. Looks like we're in some university, similar to this one, but it looks like a very different time zone. Hhhhm... Let's zoom in on those kids over there. Look - one of them is picking his nose. Pig..."

    The class got REALLY QUIET...

    "And now, let's type in a some search criteria, like "inurl: view/index.shtml?videos=one" and look - an entire list of open cameras. Let's look at this one. Cool. People working in a call centre in Argentina. WORK YOU LOSERS! WORK!!! WORK HARDER!!! MAKE ME RICH!!! Hahaha! funny isn't it?"

    No one laughed. People were squirming as we went from one private scene to another.

    "OK - so today we're going to watch portions of some hollywood entertainment fodder. It's called "The Truman Show"."

    They watched it with new eyes. They were guilty. They had sinned. We had gone from "isn't this interesting" to the "global panopticon" with a visceral sense of what surveillance really is as we watched people work, scratch themselves, goof off, pick their noses, BE HUMAN BEINGS.

    RESIST THE SURVEILLANCE STATE. TAKE YOUR SPACE BACK FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE INDUSTRY.

    It's not that Google Street is evil, it's not that a CCT in an airport is evil. It's not that a CCT in a parking lot is evil. But in aggregate, it is evil, and Google is not helping.

    RS

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)
      You missed one key concept with the panopticon: the surveillance device is accessible only to authority, not to inmates. With Google Street View - and every example you mentioned - the inmates have access to the same surveillance info. Not to mention that authority itself can be subjected to surveillance.

      I'd say that rather than the panopticon, the situation is evolving into a true global village, with the complete loss of anonymity that used to go along with living in a village.
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:18PM (#22641200) Journal
    http://www.davidbrin.com/tschp1.html [davidbrin.com]

    The Transparent Society:
    Will Technology Force us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

    by David Brin, Ph.D.

    This is a tale of two cities. Cities of the near future, say ten or twenty years from now.

    Barring something unforeseen, you are apt to live in one of these two places. Your only choice may be which.

    At first sight, this pair of municipalities look pretty much alike. Both contain dazzling technological marvels, especially in the realm of electronic media. Both suffer familiar urban quandaries of frustration and decay. If some progress is being made at solving human problems, it is happening gradually. Perhaps some kids seem better educated. The air may be marginally cleaner. People still worry about over-population, the environment, and the next international crisis.

    None of these features are of interest to us right now, for we have noticed something about both of these 21st century cities that is radically different. A trait that marks them distinct from any metropolis of the late nineteen-nineties.

    Street crime has nearly vanished from both towns. But that is only a symptom, a result.

    The real change peers down from every lamp post, every roof-top and street sign.

    Tiny cameras, panning left and right, surveying traffic and pedestrians, observing everything in open view.

    Have we entered an Orwellian nightmare? Have the burghers of both towns banished muggings at the cost of creating a Stalinist dystopia?

    Consider City Number One. In this place, all the myriad cameras report their urban scenes straight to Police Central, where security officers use sophisticated image-processors to scan for infractions against the public order -- or perhaps against an established way of thought. Citizens walk the streets aware that any word or deed may be noted by agents of some mysterious bureau.

    Now let's skip across space and time.

    At first sight, things seem quite similar in City Number Two. Again, there are ubiquitous cameras, perched on every vantage point. Only here we soon find a crucial difference. These devices do not report to the secret police. Rather, each and every citizen of this metropolis can lift his or her wristwatch/TV and call up images from any camera in town.

    Here a late-evening stroller checks to make sure no one lurks beyond the corner she is about to turn.

    Over there a tardy young man dials to see if his dinner date still waits for him by a city fountain.

    A block away, an anxious parent scans the area and finds which way her child wandered off.

    Over by the mall, a teenage shoplifter is taken into custody gingerly, with minute attention to ritual and rights, because the arresting officer knows the entire process is being scrutinized by untold numbers who watch intently, lest her neutral professionalism lapse.

    In City Two, such micro cameras are banned from some indoor places... but not Police Headquarters! There, any citizen may tune in on bookings, arraignments, and especially the camera control room itself, making sure that the agents on duty look out for violent crime, and only crime.

    Despite their initial similarity, these are very different cities, disparate ways of life, representing completely opposite relationships between citizens and their civic guardians. The reader may find both situations somewhat chilling. Both futures may seem undesirable. But can there be any doubt which city we'd rather live in, if these two make up our only choice? ...

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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