Google Street View To Respect Canada’s Privacy

    September 25, 2007

Canadian people have visible faces, and Canadian cars have legible license plates.  But when Google Street View offers images of Canada, these features will be blurred or otherwise blocked out in order to respect privacy concerns.

Peter Fleischer, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel, addressed the issue with a post on the Google LatLong Blog.  “[W]e have been careful to only collect images that anyone could see walking down a public street,” he wrote.  “However we’ve always said that Street View will respect local laws . . . and we recognize that other countries strike a different balance between the concept of ‘public spaces’ and individuals’ right to privacy in those public spaces.”

In the blog entry, Fleischer never mentioned Canada by name, yet he gave similar sound bites to Canada’s National Post and The Globe and Mail.  This effort suggests that a Canadian city will be featured on Street View in the near future.  (Up until now, only major American cities have made the cut.)

Why, though, would Google bow to Canadian privacy advocates when it more or less shrugged off their American counterparts?  As our own David Utter noted two weeks ago, “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.”

So Google intends to keep the peace with Canada’s politicians.  It’ll be interesting to see, though, how Street View users and the general public respond to edited images.