Stephen Baker

The Numerati
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Google street view rankles UK villagers

April 3, 2009Privacy

It reads like a British version of Paul Revere's ride. When Google's camera truck came into the British village of Buckinghamshire, a resident named Paul Jacobs hurried around town warning neighbors to mount a resistance. Here's the story in the Times.

Jacobs argument is that criminals will use Google to scout out promising neighborhoods for burglaries. My guess would be that burglers already know promising neighborhoods. What they need, more than a one-time street view, is a understanding of people's life patterns. When do they leave for work or go on vacation? Do they lock their doors? These are questions that Google, for all of its power, cannot yet answer.

Interesting, also, to read the comments to Times story. Some note that the British submit to more security cameras than any people on earth, but draw the line at a Google truck. Of the many privacy invasions we face, this truck is low on my list. In fact, it bothers me a little that Google has traced only the main streets of Montclair, and has not paid any attention yet to mine.

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