London (England) – Google launched its often controversial Street View service in 25 cities in England today. The images were taken from Google cars driving around Britain’s roads last summer. This makes England the 7th country to receive Street View maps.
While the images taken by Google are often the cause of controversy and privacy concerns, Google’s geospatial technologist, Ed Parsons, said for the company, “The images you see on Street View are the same images you would see if you were to walk or drive down the road yourself.” He went on to drive the point home, “If people do not want their homes featured we will take them down, or cut them out of the image.”
Concerns many have is how Street View is an opt-out service, meaning you have to explicitly contact Google and say “Please remove my house” before your privacy is once again maintained. And, there undoubtedly many millions of people who have never heard of Street View and would be shocked to find out pictures of their house are on the web.
In addition, the argument that turning on a computer and visiting a website to view a neighborhood in some town 100s or 1000s of miles away, is not the same as physically being there yourself. In one instance you only have an investment of time necessary to walk to your computer desk and surf. In the other, you are several hours or days away from the location, having far more invested in obtaining that information — in time, cost, effort and by being there in person.
Despite several privacy complaints by citizens of Great Britain, Google plans to expand the Street View service in the future. The current cities supported include: Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Southampton, Swansea, York.