The Los Angeles Times has a piece on opposition to Google’s Street View cameras in Europe. Google’s critics say the photos invade individual privacy. In the past year, several media outlets have published stories about privacy questions surrounding Street View. The L.A. Times reports:
Through Street View, the company offers 360-degree images of roads, landscapes and buildings (including, probably, your own home) to go along with its popular Google Maps function.
Privacy concerns, however, have delayed or disrupted the program’s launch in countries throughout Europe, where, in general, stricter laws on privacy and online data apply than in the United States. […]
Last month, Switzerland became the latest to put a check on Street View after a short-lived debut in the Alpine country. A few days into its launch, Swiss authorities told Google to take the feature off-line until certain conditions could be met, including better blurring of the faces of bystanders caught on camera.
The issues raised in Switzerland echo those elsewhere: people’s fears of being photographed in embarrassing or ambiguous circumstances, of having private spaces spied on and of not knowing how the published images might be used by strangers with Internet connections — perhaps for nefarious purposes such as blackmail or burglary. […]
In one image, a married Swiss politician was photographed with a blond who was not his wife, which forced him to explain publicly that the woman was his secretary. In another case, a Street View image was reprinted in a newspaper, and “as a result, a restaurant owner had to explain how he was photographed in a known drug-dealing area,” [said Hanspeter Thuer, the Swiss federal data-protection commissioner.]