Why we said no to Google Street View

Call it Blurmany if you will, call us uncool and throw eggs at our apartment building if you love Google so much, but I’m very happy to say I live here.

It didn’t take long for us to decide to say no to Street View.  After all, we already have an unlisted telephone number that’s kept our place reasonably quiet since we applied for it about four years ago.  We no longer get crank calls from drunk jerks in the middle of the night – usually students my wife teaches or once taught – bored out of their minds and playing around with their cellphones.  We also never get telemarketing calls.  I remember in Hong Kong we used to have to rip off five or 10 feet of paper every day from all the junk faxes until we made HongKong Telecom change our number.

With Google Street view, the angle was more subtle.  It’s very unlikely you’ll get hassles just because you’re visible online, and even less likely you’ll be burgled, the politician’s scare tactic of choice when this whole thing blew up in the German media a few months ago.  And as for getting caught sunbathing on the balcony – well, that’s obviously an argument put forth by those who don’t know how Street View works.

Sure it’s great for businesses, but what possible benefit could we, as private individuals living in a private household, obtain by letting Google put up a photo of the place where we spend the greater part of our lives for the whole world to see?   What have we to gain by it?

I could understand it if we were the owners of some boutique called snotty and desperate for a little free on-line publicity, we’d even pay for the right to have our store burst onto the screen with arrows, flashing  lights and pop-ups.

But here I am, some duff who was always taught to be wary of those on the sell side.  Since Google is basically a multi-billion dollar advertising company with the world’s most powerful search engine attached, why on earth would I want to help them?  What’s in it for me?

Even if we were to  ignore the accusations of WiFi network data theft and other questionable goals as their octopus-camera cruised the streets, the ONLY benefit to Street View that we could think if – and the only argument I found online in favour of not opting out – was that perhaps friends and relatives living far away could look you up.

Well, whoop-de-fucking-do.  One photo from the ground floor and a blanket email and that’s taken care of.

Google Street View is merely one more brick in the infrastructure for a much wider array of capabilities not even invented yet that could further erode what few avenues of privacy we have left.   Maybe it’s like trying to turn back the tide, but if we can spit back at it a little, maybe some good will come out of it.

9 Responses to “Why we said no to Google Street View”

  1. November 25, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    well thanks for that. every time i try to get a discussion going about this (albeit on the internet), people just respond with scoffs about how ridiculous it is to want to pixelate your home. just seems like there’s no reason to have it on there, either. and your argument about not feeling the need to further help all the millionaires over at google rings true for me as well. the fact that some people have been upset enough about the pixelating option to call it a “virutal bombing” of Germany’s cities really perplexes me. because at the end of the day, who cares? speaking of which, the google letter just arrived and i have to go punch in the code so that our place is finally out of view.

  2. November 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I can’t believe people have thrown eggs at houses that opted out. Who cares? They must be seriously bored…

  3. November 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Keep your privacy while you may;
    Ol’ Google is a trying
    to peek inside our home windows
    which feels a lot like spying.

    I need more coffee.

  4. 4 Sherry & Dale
    November 26, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Good for you guys! Smart move……I Googled my sister’s house in Cloverdale once & wow….I could see right in her frontroom window!!!! Scary!I could see thoer car & if I turned the Google camera around I could see every inch of thier back yard! Cool…but not cool at the same time. My sister in-law also at the coast ran outside & chased them away🙂
    PS….Hi!!!!! Long time no chat…heading to CR in a few days for a month….ahhhhh, can’t wait….was -20C here a few days ago but today is -4 only & the sun peaks out every now & then….ih how I so do not like winter so we will fly away & find the warmth! Say a big HI to K & the redhead….I’ll send you a postcard🙂

    • November 27, 2010 at 8:16 am

      It’s just so incredibly intrusive, isn’t it? One shot and that’s the way your place is going to be forever – or until they send out the octopus again, upgraded and scraping who knows what this time. Cell phone records?

      Hi Sherry, Hi Dale!
      I envy you and your month in CR – enjoy it! Make sure you’re not using Google Maps if you get too close to the border. Did you hear about that story?

  5. 6 Sherry & Dale
    November 29, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Google…ah yes……LOL…. I’ve been following the conflict…so silly about the Google error being used as an excuse…crazy Nicaraguans…pretty nervy…..they want that new canal & will do anything to get it…CR has no army so basically just letting it happen while whining up a storm…..if it works it will rival the Panama Canal big time…it is taking place about an hour North of us…too close actually…..but no matter….sun, sand, palms & beach here we come………….ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh🙂

    • November 29, 2010 at 7:45 am

      It’s been such an incredibly early winter everywhere, hasn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Vancouver with that much snow and so cold this early. As you head away from it all to your sunnier side, I’ll think of you as the snow engulfs us! I’m off for a week myself, but headed west then north, first to London and then by rail to York.
      We’ll watch out for that postcard!

  6. 8 TomFromGermany
    August 5, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Maybe we are getting old. Asking young people – for instance my daughter -, there is no care about privacy. For her everything seems to be normal.

    A couple of month ago there was an report in german television. The reporter interviewed a few twenty-something people of different gender what they think about internet privacy, google street view and wifi-locating.

    Alarmingly no one has serious doubts.

    They grow up with this technique stuff. For my age, I am thirty-five – and that’s not old – I was happy about my first video-recorder and single-lens reflex camera (analog of course). Taking photos or making videos with unhandy camcorder was a revolutionary experience.

    I have never thought that it could be possible to interact around the world through a “computer” let alone viewing pictures from places/streets around the world with a single program called street view.

    At the age of fifteen or eighteen – if someone asked me where I have been around the world – I said, “Everywhere … with me finger on the map.”

    Time changed. The next generation will not think about Google Street View or mobile monitoring.

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