Stopping pictures of yourself being found on Google Street Map

What is the Google Street Map?

The Google street map allows an individual user to view up to 25 towns and cities using a 360 degree view. The site can be accessed over the internet.

Are vehicle registrations and people able to be seen on the tool?

Such objects as cars and individual people can be seen on many of the pictures. The reason for this is that the tool was developed by taking a series of photographs. Accordingly when these photos were taken it is likely that these things would appear in the photos.

However, the registrations of the vehicles and the faces of the individual people are blurred so that they cannot be identified.

What are the legal issues which have been brought into focus since the introduction of Google Street Map?

Many people have brought issues into focus such as the claim that the street map has increased the opportunities for burglaries. Accordingly it is claimed that is online tool provides an opportunity for individuals wishing to commit burglary in a certain area with the opportunity of casing that area from the comfort of their own home.

Have people taken measures to try and prevent these photographs being taken?

Reportedly there have been human chains formed around one of Google’s cars in a certain area in an attempt by the public to stop the photos being taken.

Are there any legal issues in relation to the privacy of individuals in the photographs?

Another legal issue which has been brought into focus is that of the privacy of the individuals seen in some of the photos.

What is the argument here?

The argument here is that an individual will not have consented to their photograph being taken and posted on the internet in this manner.

Is there any breach of the laws of England and Wales?

In 2009 this issue was one which was submitted to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Which body submitted the complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office?

The complaint was issued to the Information Commissioner’s Office by Privacy International (PI) after they received a number of complaints from individuals as Google had refused to remove certain images.

What was the decision of the Information Commissioner’s Office?

It was decided by the Information Commissioner’s Office that Google’s street map does not breach any privacy laws.

Why was this decision held?

It is likely that this decision was taken as the images have been blurred meaning that the people featured cannot be fully identified.

If I make a complaint to Google is it likely that they will remove the image?

Many complaints have been submitted in relation to images of people being used on the online tool as despite the images being blurred out individuals are able to be recognised by others. However, following the decision of the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) Google does not legally have to remove these images.

In some cases however, Google may agree to remove these images. An example of this was one of the photographs depicting a man leaving a sex-shop. Google agreed to remove this image upon submission of a request.