Street View may violate Canadian privacy laws

Written by Phil Cogar

September 12, 2007 | 15:17

Tags: #canada #maps #privacy #street-view

Companies: #google

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.
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