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Canada Feels Violated By Google Street View

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Advocates in Canada’s government are questioning Google’s plans to expand its street-level photography when the privacy rights of individuals could be routinely violated.

Canada Feels Violated By Google Street View
Canada Feels Violated By Google Street View

Google could be in for a legal challenge in Canada over its Street View photography. Unlike the US, Canada has a government office for a federal privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, and her office is not happy with Google’s efforts.

A report on National Post said Stoddart has already upbraided Google’s top legal staffer about the photography:

But the privacy commissioner is concerned that if the service is expanded into Canada, it could violate federal privacy laws designed to protect citizens from having their personal information easily accessible.

The street-view application “does not appear to meet the basic requirements of knowledge, consent, and limited collection and use” of personal information that is set out in Canada’s privacy laws, the commissioner wrote in her letter to Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond.

Stoddart has also challenged Immersive Media on similar grounds. That digital imaging company’s images appear in many Street View scenes.

Google has defended its practices by saying it isn’t doing anything wrong:

“We’re focused on making this service available in as many cities as possible,” Google spokeswoman Wendy Rozeluk wrote an in e-mail. “We will be adding Street View imagery for new cities on an ongoing basis.”

“This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street. Imagery of this kind is available in a wide variety of formats for cities all around the world,” Ms. Rozeluk said.

Some controversial images have been removed from Street View as a result of complaints. Naturally, there are other places to see photos caught by Street View and noticed by people using the service. It’s an interesting experiment in observing daily life; the courts will have to decide just how legal it is.

Canada Feels Violated By Google Street View
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