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Google Businesses The Internet Privacy

Google's Street View Meets Resistance In France 201

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the not-surrendering dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Google has begun to scan the streets of Paris as part of its Street View service, but the company may be hindered from publishing them unedited. The reason? French privacy laws. Google may be forced to blur faces or use low-resolution versions of the photographs. The Embassy of France in the US has a page devoted to French privacy laws, that says the laws are needed to 'avoid infringing the individual's right to privacy and right to his or her picture (photograph or drawing), both of them rights of personality.'"
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Google's Street View Meets Resistance In France

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  • When in Rome... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoobixCube (1133473) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:37AM (#23358660) Journal
    Or in this case, Paris. The law is the law, and Google need to respect the local laws. They do it in China, with their censored Google, so I can't imagine them putting up too much of a fight against French privacy laws.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:45AM (#23358686)

      ...can't imagine them putting up too much of a fight...
      so you think THEY will surrender to FRANCE?!

      brain... hurt...
    • by nguy (1207026)
      Or in this case, Paris. The law is the law, and Google need to respect the local laws.

      Sure, they do. I just hope they push it as far as legally possible. The French really need to change their attitudes about photography and "privacy" in public places.
    • The law is the law, and Google need to respect the local laws.

      Yes, but that may not mean what you think it means.

      French laws apparently are restrictions on publishing, not taking, pictures. So, Google can legally take those pictures, and legally take them out of French jurisdiction. And since they are not subject to French laws in the US, they can publish them in the US unedited. Google would seem to be in full compliance with all local laws at all times.

      They do it in China, with their censored Google, s
    • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Saturday May 10, 2008 @08:36AM (#23360170) Journal
      What really amazes me is that yesterday [slashdot.org] people were arguing that people on a public street had no right to expect privacy from cameras.

      Before people jump all over me about the diffences, yes, I realize that this is apples-to-oranges. There are lots of differences in how and why the laws are written, and a big difference between law enforcement cameras (presumably not for public distribution or corporate profit), and Google cameras, etc etc etc.

      What surprises me is that two societies with such close physical, economic, historic (+/- ad infinitum) ties have such radically different expectations of control over personal images taken in public.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SerpentMage (13390)
        Wait one minute. There is public street and privacy.
        Let say that you take a picture of a street full of apartments. (This is the case in Paris) And in one of those shots you happen to take there is a woman changing. Yes the shot is inadvertent, but it is invasion of privacy because the angle of the shot happens to include both the street and the woman.

        As the article said:

        2. By taking, recording or transmitting, without his or her consent, the picture of a person who is in a private place.

        When you are on the
        • I don't dispute a person's right to privacy in their home. However, my understanding of the article is that the objection comes from the taking and use of pictures of a public setting, ie people sitting in a sidewalk cafe.

          Here: [info-france-usa.org] "It should be borne in mind that the protection of privacy afforded by article 9 of the Civil Code is quite wide, since it operates both in a public and in a private place ..."

          I thought it provides an interesting contrast to the rhetoric in the recent /. discussions on Britis
      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Paris is imitating London's video-surveillance program. We are just a bit late as always with technology. We have people who ask the right to walk in public with a mask however (preferably the one from 'V for Vendetta')
  • by amccaf1 (813772) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:45AM (#23358692)
    I've looked around for information before, but have never found any. Does anyone know how often people actually use the Street View for the purpose for which it was designed (i.e. non-voyeuristic purposes)?

    Personally, I just don't see the overwhelming need for it. I've never really needed to see what a road or a street looks like before driving on it. The only case that springs to mind is for odd places way out in remote areas, where there the lay-out may be different... but that's exactly the sort of place that would never get put into the StreetView system anyway.

    So, does anyone find StreetView genuinely useful enough to be worth all the privacy hassle?
    • by Necroman (61604) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:28AM (#23358870)
      It can be very useful for finding the final destination in a trip. A friend gave me a link to his new place using StreetView, with the "camera" pointed directly at which house was his. With this, I knew what to look for when I got into the area (as it was near impossible to see the markings on the houses at night.

      StreetView has its purpose, it's really a matter of how follow directions.

      Also, I've been using it for house hunting in the city I live in. I'm able to see what kind of homes are in the different neighborhoods around town without driving all over the place. Once I find some neighborhoods that I like I drive there myself just to get a feel for the area in person.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by YttriumOxide (837412)

      So, does anyone find StreetView genuinely useful enough to be worth all the privacy hassle?

      I would/will find it useful if/when it covers German cities. I'm not a native of this country (or Europe, or even the Northern Hemisphere for that matter) and sometimes a map just isn't enough. The satellite view on Google Maps is handy, but still not quite good enough, since rooftops can look quite different to the view from below.

      The problem comes when I have a hard time identifying something that I see with my own eyes as being a street or not. That's a lot more common than you'd think here! Espec

    • by kchrist (938224)
      I used it recently when looking for a new apartment. The maps told me about the surrounding area, and street view showed me what the building and neighborhood looked like. It gave me an idea of what to expect before taking the time to drive over and look for myself.

      It's also handy for finding your way somewhere unfamiliar, because you can see what the outside of a building, store, or restaurant looks like in advance so you know what to look for when you get there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:59AM (#23358756)
    " Google's Street View Meets Resistance in France"

    It is not resistance, it is the french law.

    As a French citizen, I find the Slashdot title offensive.

    Paris is the capital of a free sovereign country, France, which has its own Constitution and legal system, which is not the US ones!

    The title implies that american law should prevail everywhere! No! France is not a US colony.

    I am sure that most american (& french) citizens would expect French coorporations (e.g. Thales, Air Liquide, ...) to obey American laws on the American soil (e.g. Washington D.C.)

    Why should it be different for Google (an american coorporation) in France?
    • by bedonnant (958404)
      exactly. it's not resistance, it's not reticence. you just can't do that in France, and that's it. French law is not going to change just to please a foreign company.
    • by PieceofLavalamp (1244192) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @08:40AM (#23360188)
      No where does it say that Google expects immunity to french laws. The summary says it will have to edit them to comply with french laws. Meaning there is an impediment to the publishing. A resistance to publishing. Now if they don't edit the photos then you can object and I encourage you to but right now your just beating your patriotic chest. And theres nothing wrong with that, though i don't understand how thats +5 insightful.
      • You missed the point of the OP : Compare the following Example of title for the article :

        * Google's Street View Meets Resistance In France

        Now compare to :

        * Google's Street View expected to respect french privacy law for french streets

        Just like you can influence the response of a person to a question by formulating it in a way or another, I have started to expect that all title of article in slashdot or skewed to force a knee jerk reaction, like yellow newspaper. It is not really patriotic chest b
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Yes, and current French law would actually have made it difficult - if not impossible - for French photographers such as Cartier-Bresson to practice their art, no? What about Doisneau and Ronis? Boubet? It seems like an entire period of French public life is going to be recorded but not published or displayed the way much of the 20th century was - due to fear of lawsuits. There are limits in the US, but generally anything that is taken in public, and is for editorial purposes (including artistic) is legal
      • by sessamoid (165542)

        Yes, and current French law would actually have made it difficult - if not impossible - for French photographers such as Cartier-Bresson to practice their art, no? What about Doisneau and Ronis? Boubet? It seems like an entire period of French public life is going to be recorded but not published or displayed the way much of the 20th century was - due to fear of lawsuits. There are limits in the US, but generally anything that is taken in public, and is for editorial purposes (including artistic) is legal - commercial use (like advertising) requires a release. Sure, France can pass any law - but it's unfortunate that something like French street photography - which has had a particularly lyric quality to it - should be limited now. I would have enjoyed seeing what that tradition, reinvented with today's technology, might've been able to show. Bringing that humanist tradition to bear on the spontaneous moments of everyday public life would be especially welcome in today's world. I guess future generations will have to settle for mass-media portrayals of today's life, and news coverage of spectacle and tragedy. That's ok, if it's actually what the people of France want. It seems like something is being lost, though.

        I thought of this, too. In addition, does that make journalistic photography a non-existent profession in France? You can't legally take a picture of a crowd at, say... a protest against the war in Iraq... without getting explicit permission from everybody on the street? After all, the street is a "private place" and all.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:02AM (#23358774) Homepage

    California has a similar law, Civil Code section 3344 [findlaw.com]. This covers "publicity rights". Each person's "publicity right" in recognizable images of themself is by law worth at least $750, if used in any manner related to advertising or selling. If you're famous, the price goes up, to cover "actual damages".

    So if you're in California and recognizable in Google StreetView, you could put in a claim. It's not worth it unless you're a major celebrity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bedonnant (958404)
      it's good to know that like everything else in the US, your own image has a price. A pretty low price. That you're only given if you're willing to fight.
    • by antdude (79039)
      How about properties like homes?
      • by dkf (304284)

        How about properties like homes?
        In case you hadn't noticed, homes aren't people and as such don't have rights. Imagine if they did! The right to have the roof kept in good repair, the right to be aired out on a regular basis, the right to remain silent (except in high winds).
    • by lysse (516445)
      Doesn't California have a small claims court or procedure, through which Google could be very cheaply hit with an avalanche of "can I have my $750 please?" requests?
  • by sureshc (185660) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:16AM (#23358836)
    The online French Yellow Pages (http://www.pagesjaunes.fr) has a primitive streetview feature. Most of the pictures appear to be taken early in the morning when there are very few pedestrians, but it's still fairly common to see people in the background.
  • If this were true then it would be illegal to take a photograph in a public place in France with any people in it. Just considering professional photographers alone, that makes thousands of offenders a year.

    There are over 5000 infringing photographs of people in France on Corbis if you search for 'crowd france'.

    http://www.corbis.com/ [corbis.com]

    • by bedonnant (958404)
      yes, because if it's available on the internets, then it must be legal.
    • by Cochonou (576531) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @03:16AM (#23359014) Homepage
      You know, people's rights to their image do not only exist in France.
      Don't you remember the Australian Virgin mobile fiasco ? They had taken pictures from Flickr under the Creative Common license for their advertising campaign. So far, so good. However, they did not have the consent of the people on the pictures.
      Now, the family of the girl on the picture got a little wild and sued both Virgin and Creative Commons. The latter case has been dropped, but I believe the former is still ongoing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        In most countries, it is legal to take and sell photos of people without their consent in a public place - otherwise it would be practically impossible to take pictures anywhere. What you're not allowed to do is to sell them for use in advertising, to endorse products or services etc. without the consent of the people involved (model release).

        I'm not aware of the specific laws in France, it just seems to me that these picture agencies would have thoroughly investigated that before selling pictures of people
        • by Cochonou (576531)
          I am not familiar with the laws of the other countries, but I'm a bit familiar with the laws of France.
          What we are currently looking at is article 226-1 [legifrance.gouv.fr] of the law texts.

          Est puni d'un an d'emprisonnement et de 45000 euros d'amende le fait, au moyen d'un procédé quelconque, volontairement de porter atteinte à l'intimité de la vie privée d'autrui :
          1 En captant, enregistrant ou transmettant, sans le consentement de leur auteur, des paroles prononcées à titre privé o
          • Thanks for the reference, however, that law is specifically talking about private places:

            Est puni d'un an d'emprisonnement et de 45000 euros d'amende le fait, au moyen d'un procédé quelconque, volontairement de porter atteinte à l'intimité de la vie privée d'autrui :
            1 En captant, enregistrant ou transmettant, sans le consentement de leur auteur, des paroles prononcées à titre privé ou confidentiel ;
            2 En fixant, enregistrant ou transmettant, sans le consentement de celle-ci, l'image d'une personne se trouvant dans un lieu privé.
            Lorsque les actes mentionnés au présent article ont été accomplis au vu et au su des intéressés sans qu'ils s'y soient opposés, alors qu'ils étaient en mesure de le faire, le consentement de ceux-ci est présumé.

            It is punishable by one year's imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros to intrude on the private life of others by any means :

            1. In capturing, recording or transmitting, without the consent of their author, their words spoken in a private or confidential context;
            2. In capturing, recording or transmitting, without the consent of the subject, the image of someone situated in a private place
            When the acts mentioned in this article have been in sight and with the knowledge of the interested parties, without any opposition from them, even though they were able to oppose it, the consent of those parties is assumed.

            Please forgive the rough translation.

            In fact it says that you do not have the right to take or transmit pictures without people's consent when they are 'in a private place'. It doesn't say anything about public places (there may be another article of the law about that, I don't know). Like you I'm not a lawyer, but this law doesn't say what you said it does about photography in *public* places, and thus doesn't apply t

        • by pimpimpim (811140)
          well actually, google is making money on the advertising, and the advertisements are watched because of the content. A bit like a billboard get watched based on how interesting it looks.

          Streetview is content shown by google to get viewers for their advertisements, When you are part of that content, why shouldn't you have rights to part of the income? Or at least have the right to be removed.

  • by tmk (712144) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:45AM (#23358918)
    Google Street Maps was not welcome in Australia, too. But the newspaper "The Australian" had an interesting idea: the asked Google for the addresses of the Google managers [news.com.au].

    While Google has defended the project, the internet company baulked when The Weekend Australian requested the personal details and addresses of the group's key figures to allow the paper's photographers to take pictures of their homes. "Providing those details would be completely inappropriate," said Google spokesman Rob Shilkin.
    • Google Street Maps was not welcome in Australia, too. But the newspaper "The Australian" had an interesting idea: the asked Google for the addresses of the Google managers.

      It wasn't an interesting idea, it was the typical non-story media beatup our Australian news papers love to do. It's not even bloody comparable, it's not like I can type in "Jeff Blackmore" and it shows me his house and address or something like that. I guess Australians [me being one of them] don't realise that *gasps* people who drive

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xuranova (160813)
      How is that an interesting idea or even relevant? Taking pictures of a home or something is one thing, identifying who it belongs to is another. Google isn't giving you the ability to click on a home and get the details of whose inside. Nice job trying to instigate though. You get a C for effort.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tmk (712144)
        I don't think the article I mentioned is the best or most relevant report on that topic, but it is interesting to test the threshold of privacy. In fact it is very easy to connect information about a person with the picture from Google street map. E.g. in Germany you need to provide proper contact information on professional web site, including postal addresses. Install the right Firefox Plugin and you could see the picture of the house in Google maps.
  • by straponego (521991) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:55AM (#23358956)
    I like that concept, "Rights of Personality." It cuts to the essence of a disturbing trend in places like the US and the UK. More and more, every minute of one's life is scrutinized by the state, business, marketers, and random individuals. But the next step is the research is being done on various mind-reading technologies. Right now, these manifest themselves as "lie detectors" and DHS-type projects to look for terrorists, smugglers, and other nogoodniks. Also, marketing types want to be able to detect your internal reactions to ads, to fine tune their attacks on yor will. Soon they'll be able to track your eyes to see who you find attractive, then include similar models in ads targeted at you (this could be a fantastic optimization for porn, I admit).

    The trend, and the goal, is to be able to read more people, at greater distance. We don't know how far this technology can go, but some of the things already being tested are capable enough to give one pause. If you are not allowed to think unauthorized thoughts (to question the state; to remember a song without paying royalties), do you have a personality? Do you have free will? It seems to me that at that point, consciousness would be a curse.

    Gene Wolfe wrote, I believe in Soldier of the Mist, that "A man without a sword is a slave." I would contend that today it's more relevant to say that a man without privacy is a prisoner; a man without private thoughts is a slave.

    It's nice to know that some places still maintain the concept of a right to privacy.

    • by bedonnant (958404)
      sadly, these rights are eroding fast in France, because the current authorities are fascinated by US and UK-type mass control.
    • by bersl2 (689221)
      Using this same attitude of creating positive rights, this is also the same people who gave us droit d'auteur/moral rights and the Berne Convention.

      There are better ways of getting at privacy.
  • "Sometimes just because something can be done does not mean it should be done."

    That's what I think about the Google Street Maps. Personally, at least for me it would be a perfect tool (as I was born in NYC but haven't been back home in 9 years), so being able to plan a trip would be awesome. That being said, however a lot of people (perhaps rightly or wrongly) have deep fear and differing views of privacy, so we have to accomodate the "lowest common denominator" of the population; which for Google woul
  • Don't trust that (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DisSys (1287020) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @04:11AM (#23359218)
    Well, I do live in Paris, and I can tell you this law is not really enforced unless you explicitly ask for it. Several times, photographers (*professional* ones I mean) tried to take a photograph of my baby girl (a cute and smiling one, but I'm not neutral on that topic! ;-), without asking for authorization, of course. I had to ask them to stop that, which usually led to a verbal argument. Google has been caught red-handed. Good. Next time they will hide their cameras and nobody will notice, except for the few usual whistleblowers.
  • crazy attitudes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nguy (1207026)
    The French are crazy when it comes to photography; it's the only place where I have ever experienced hostility towards street photography. For a country for which tourism is so important, that just seems stupid. The notion that your image is public when you're in a public location (barring a few exceptions) seems to be fine, but the French seem to assume that they can stroll along with their mistresses and be safe from accidental embarrassment.

    My conclusion? Avoid France for tourism, and publish the pict
  • A people, paranoid about getting their picture taken without their consent; perhaps, more importantly, taken in the wrong light without make-up: then I remembered, this is France we're talking about :)

    Always look beneath the surface at the laws of a nation.
  • They just have to follow the sames rules used by http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/villeendirect/photo/AfficherPageAccueilPhotosVilles.do [pagesjaunes.fr] which are showing most of big cities streets with a better resolution than Streetview.

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