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Street View may violate Canadian privacy laws

Street View may violate Canadian privacy laws

While no individual is seen clearly in this image, you can zoom in and clearly see the drivers of the vehicles.

Back in May, Google introduced a new feature to its maps called Street View, which allows users to get a 360-degree view of city streets at essentially eye-level. Currently, the program has only been rolled out in a select few major US cities, but it has slowly been spreading. Apparently, though, you shouldn't expect it in Canada anytime soon.

First, a little background - not too long after the program launched in the US, there was a big ruckus going on about privacy concerns. However, the issue had no legal basis in the United States because you can take a picture of anything that can be seen from the street (hence the root cause of the Streisand Effect). Nonetheless, Google responded and made it possible to request an image be removed from Street View.

It may not be enforceable in the US, but Canada is a whole different animal. Jennifer Stoddart, Canada's privacy commissioner, says that Street View could break Canada's privacy laws. The main issue is that any image of a person that allows them to be identified is considered personal information and falls under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

While there are options to have an image removed, Stoddart says that that may not be sufficient enough since individuals are not notified at the time the picture is taken. By the time someone realizes that his or her picture is out in the wild on the internet, individual privacy may have already been violated.

Google has yet to respond to this concern, but we'll be sure to follow up on it as the story grows.

Do you feel that these images really violate someone's privacy? Maybe you feel that they don't since these are publicly taken images. Either way, tell us how you feel about the issue over in the forums or in the comment section below.

5 Comments

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Duste 12th September 2007, 16:50 Quote
Who the hell is Canada?

*snicker*
mmorgue 12th September 2007, 17:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duste
Who the hell is Canada?

*snicker*

A cleaner, more polite, bigger, inofensive and unobtrusive version of America but with health care.
DarkLord7854 12th September 2007, 18:56 Quote
Ok so you see a friend on the street online.. so what? Not like you can view anything you can't see if you walked by them, unless walking by someone and identifying them is agaisnt the privacy act.
righteous_slave 12th September 2007, 19:42 Quote
There is a razor's edge being walked here between genuine concerns over one's privacy and reality. My money is on a bunch of nutjobs ignoring both sides and taking a long walk off a short cliff into idiocy.
ralph.pickering 12th September 2007, 19:54 Quote
If anyone is that concerned about their privacy they should stay indoors or convert to Islam so they can wear the hajib (possibly a problem if you're a man - maybe become a ninja in that case). Most people aren't that bothered and then at the other end of the spectrum there are those who bob up and down behind news presenters or pause concert DVDs to see if they can spot themselves in amongst the crowd. Either way... idiots.
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