Google Maps UK Privacy Concerns

Search engine giant Google’s plans to launch a mapping tool here in the UK might be referred to the Information Commissioner.

‘Street View’ matches real location photos to maps.

That in itself, of course, sounds pretty harmless, but the issue at hand is the fact that these photos currently include members of the public who were passing by at the time the photograph was taken.


Privacy international

Street View, which has already been launched in the US, includes photographs of many streets in major American cities.

This has led, however, to some individuals in the US making complaints about having their images used. Google responded by editing them out of the photos upon request.

Now it is believed that photography of key areas in the UK has begun this week.

UK rights group, Privacy International, believes that such a project may break British data protection laws.

Privacy International’s Simon Davies said, ‘In our view they need a person’s consent if they make use of a person’s face for commercial ends.’

Google’s Response

Google responded by saying that they have begun to trial a new face blurring technology which can automatically recognise human faces in photographs.

Privacy International, however, have doubts about this new algorithm and have asked the Mountain View company to supply technical information on how it works.

If they fail to receive a satisfactory response then Privacy international have intimated that they will refer the situation to the UK’s Information Commissioner.

Do you Consent?

Whilst it is perfectly legal to photograph individuals in the street in the US, Simon Davies believes that the case may be different in the UK due to the fact that Street View is being used for commercial purposes.

Here in the UK, anyone appearing in such photographs needs to grant their consent.

Accordingly, Google has said it complies with all local laws.

Would you be happy to appear on Street View?

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. Stuart Reynolds says:

    I’m all for my image appearing in pictures, I don’t know why anyone would have a problem with this.

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