Google’s Street View service has finally hit Germany. Unfortunately the announcement of Street View coming to Germany two months ago has been met with a huge amount of sillyness by Germans. Afraid of their own shadow, they fought with Google until Google agreed to “blur out” houses if owners didn’t want it to appear on Street View.
In my opinion, that’s privacy gone ad absurdum. Google only takes pictures of objects that are clearly visible from public space, and our laws clearly state that anyone may photograph and publish anything located in a public space. Blurring a house does nothing whatsoever to protect someone’s privacy, because the house is still there and anyone can still go there and camp in front of it with binoculars if they really wanted to spy on someone. That actually makes much more sense than going to Google Street View, because Street View is merely a snapshot of the location which is in most cases ridiculously old.
I have never even seen that “Schumd Pflegedienst” or whatever it is. The store on the right has been empty ever since I moved in and has only recently found a new tenant.
In that picture, you can also sadly also see that some of our neighbors got something to hide, because they had their house blurred by Google. It’s very awkward and rude that they blurred half of our house too.
Blurring is completely useless to protect anyone’s privacy. In Germany’s Street View, there are popping up more and more blurred houses with Panoramio Photo overlays, which in many cases show the house much clearer than usual Google Street View captures. Take a look at the house behind this link.
I simply cannot comprehend the German panic behind Street View. If anything, Street View useful for you. If you have invited guests over, you can now simply point them to Street View, where they can look at your house or street and make those much easier for them to recognize on arrival. I’ve used Street View a lot to get a sense of orientation outside of Germany, e.g. for my last small vacation in Ireland.
I wonder what these panic-y people who had their house blurred will do when they move somewhere else. They’ve put the burden of a blurry house on their next tenant, but now the new house they live in is not blurred. Blur the next one? And the one after that? And the one after that? Soon, all of Germany will drown in a big blur. I bet people who had their house blurred don’t encrypt their Wi-Fi, use the same easy password on every website and have never heard of Tor and the likes.