We were recently asked what our position was on Google Street View and this is what we came up with:
Google street view operates in a public setting, and you have no
expectation of privacy in a public setting. If Google were to map out someone’s home without their permission, then we would draw the line there because that is where people do have an expectation of privacy. If you say that Google cant take pictures on the street without the permission of everyone who is on or owns a piece of property, then professional photographers would need to do the same, and for a citywide panoramic picture that would be ridiculous.
Additionally, we believe that it is legitimate for individuals to
record or photograph a police officer (or other public servant),
public events and buildings in public settings. There is no real
expectation of privacy when you’re out and about. Complaining about this would open the door to lawsuits where if people notice someone taking pictures of a building, and they just happen to be in the shot, they could sue the photographer, or should it be a public building, potentially arrest the photographer.
One of our activists stated it simply: “People don’t own the photons just because they hit their face or property. And since Google is kind enough to blur out faces and license plates I see nothing wrong with it, and would welcome it’s expansion onto public foot paths.”