And this is why we can’t have nice things

Google street view may be illegal

Canada’s privacy commissioner has been googling Google, and she’s raising concerns over the search engine’s new Street View web photo application.

Jennifer Stoddart says many of the street-level images Google is making available on the internet could break Canada’s privacy laws.

Street View isn’t yet available in Canada but has been expanding in the United States since being launched in May.

Stoddart has written to Google, and Calgary-based Immersive Media – which helped develop the imagery technology for Street View – asking both companies to respond to her concerns.

“I am concerned that, if the Street View application were deployed in Canada, it might not comply with our federal privacy legislation,” Stoddart says in a letter to David Drummond, Google’s senior vice-president of corporate development and chief legal officer.

In case you haven’t seen Google’s Street View, here it is. You can get a street-based view of many major US cities.

It’s a good thing that in Canada, we have a fantastic bureaucracy that protects us from… innovation.

The commissioner’s specific concern?

“Our Office considers images of individuals that are sufficiently clear to allow an individual to be identified to be personal information within the meaning of PIPEDA [the privacy act]”

I suppose they better shut down Flickr too. And… any newspaper or tv station that publishes or broadcasts images from public places.

This isn’t surveillance, these are single images.

Of course, this topic brings up a good debate. Do we consensually sacrifice an element of our privacy when we go out in public? I’ve presented my view. What’s yours?