[This article was first published in Crikey yesterday.]
This morning Australians woke to the news that Google’s Street View has taken photos of their street, their office, their school — their home! — and published them for all to see. Doubtless we’ll now see a flood of stories screeching “Invasion of privacy!” Hardly.
A picture taken on a public street isn’t “private”. A house is a visible, physical object that anyone can walk past and photograph. Its address is a known fact. Anyone can post pictures online with a description. Real estate agents do it all the time. All Google has done is photographed “everywhere” all at once, and given us the results.
Worried that knowledge of who lives in your house will become public? That data is already available — in the phone book, in most cases, or the electoral roll. If you’ve done any renovations recently, there’s probably even a floor plan of your house on your local council’s website.
Besides, when you use Street View, chances are the very first thing you’ll look up is your own home. Knowing this, Google can simply cross-match that with everything they already know about you: every Google search you’ve done, every link you’ve followed, every YouTube video you’ve watched — and, if a website uses the “free” Google Analytics or runs Google AdSense advertising, Google also knows about every such website you’ve ever visited. Congratulations, you just let them write your address across the top of their dossier!
And isn’t Google owned by the CIA anyway? Beware The Googling… ! [Insert maniacal laugh here.]
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