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Village asks to be wiped from Google's map

The Local · 3 Nov 2010, 18:38

Published: 03 Nov 2010 18:38 GMT+01:00

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The hamlet of Parum, population 70, has come together to sign a petition addressed to Federal Data Protection Officer Peter Schaar to get the village wiped off the Street View map, due to be rolled out by the end of the year.

If this does not work, all 25 households intend to apply individually to Google to have their houses pixellated, a special concession the US Internet giant made in Germany, sensitive to privacy issues for historical reasons.

"Parum is a no-Google village," retired teacher Wilhelm Meier, who lives in the tiny farming community, told news agency AFP.

Street View, which allows users to "walk" through towns and cities using photos taken by specially equipped vehicles, is already online in around 20 countries but ran into fevered opposition in Germany.

As a special concession to these concerns, Google allowed people to "opt out" of the service, promising to pixellate their house. The firm announced on October 21 that nearly a quarter of a million Germans had done this.

Although Germans are avid users of Street View images from other countries, the planned roll-out here caused alarm in a country especially sensitive to privacy concerns due to the gross abuses under the Nazi and communist regimes.

On Tuesday, Google launched its disputed Street View service in the small town of Oberstaufen in Bavaria, southern Germany.

Delighted their tourist-dependent town was the first in Germany to be visible on the navigation service, the townsfolk even baked a brightly coloured cake proclaiming "Welcome Google."

Story continues below…

Google plans to roll out the service for Germany's 20 largest cities later this year, including Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:26 November 3, 2010 by MonkeyMania
@small boy. Why are they tossers? They want to preserve their right to privacy and it is their right to do so. They are not hurting anybody and surely in a free democratic country they have the right to decide to block out their village. At least until we all know more about what Google Street View can and will do. Better to err on the side of caution regarding private data than to risk what happened in the past happening again. Germany is all to aware of what can happen when organisations can compile data on citizens.
19:47 November 3, 2010 by auniquecorn
Their right to privacy is what goes on inside their house. Are they gonna call the police if someone drives down the street and looks at them as they pass?

Proably knowing these tossers.
21:41 November 3, 2010 by iseedaftpeople

the difference being that that would only be one person. I do think it matters if it's just some guy who is looking into your kitchen window as he passes your house, or if the whole world is able to see your property in detail, presumably not always with the best intentions.

I asked Google to blur my house and they have said they will comply, I hope everything goes well when my town goes online probably later this year.

If that makes me a tosser, well, then fine, by all means I'm a tosser. But one whose house you can't see on the Internet :-)
00:37 November 4, 2010 by StarrryNight
@ Small Town Boy

@ auniquecorn

Feel free to let Google take a pic of your bedroom if YOU like, it's your personal affair, as well as others say 'No pics of my house'.

Calling them 'tossers' is inappropriate and shows a lack of good behaviour.
06:57 November 4, 2010 by CaSimone
First, bad manners never aids an opinion but devalues it before someone can take a few moments to digest it.

There are numerous reasons, and all of them can be valid, as to why privacy is a legitimate request.

Just for the sake of example;

Perhaps one or two of their area have been the victims of theft before, leaving them more sensitive, and rightfully so, to Google displaying each window.. each door... bushes, all the visuals a robber needs to plan out a heist.

Perhaps it's another reason, regardless, leave it be and let them request their privacy.

Personally I feel there is no need to have personal homes represented exactly as they are on google.

Google is great for seeing public areas and attractions, but the private homeowners/renters, should feel completely comfortable to request to remain "private"
07:26 November 4, 2010 by Landmine
Do they even have computers in that village because they certainly have village idiots!
09:36 November 4, 2010 by hOU
The German obssession w/ camera's, google, privat spähre is laughable.
09:55 November 4, 2010 by ovbg
To those above who have blocked their houses because of privacy concerns, you do realize that you have actually achieved the complete opposite? You will now, above anything else, stand out above the crowd.

@ CaSimone, if it is theft that worries you, now your property is highlighted for criminals. If thieves are actually using Street View (which all evidence from countries that have had it for a while shows they are not) then surely when the look past your property and see it blurred they will wonder "Hey, now what has this person got to hide?". Your property will stand out like a sore thumb on a street of otherwise conformity and anonymity.

@iseedaftpeople, likewise for you. You may have prevented Streetview from having a low resolution image of your property from the street. But you now have attracted the attention of your whole neighbourhood. "What do you have to hide?" Maybe questions asked. People who are pro streetview may also have a laugh, and photograph the front of your house in full high resolution and post it either right on Google as a Panoramio photo (which is fully legal) or other other internet webpages. If you have done this for privacy reasons, I dear say you may have just shot yourself in the foot. Your property will now stand out as a point of interest in your street.

Of course, people who browse Streetview from afar, would not be able to do anything about this. But these people would never had noticed your property in the first place as they "stroll" down the street. Your neighbours though, and theives in your area WILL notice your property now, and it is very likely it will perk up their interests.

Rule 101 of staying anonymous.... Don't shout ;O)
12:33 November 4, 2010 by DinhoPilot
Big brother is watching you with delight...

12:52 November 4, 2010 by Zobirdie
@OVBG They arent lo res images. As I just said on another article- my sis in Canada didnt have her drapes drawn when the car went by. You can look right in her windows. You can see the edge of her TV. (Think GEZ for people here!) You can see ornaments on the window ledge.

And my sister's house isnt a row house. It is back from the street, on a little mound and not at eye level. But because of the height of the camera pole, one can see right in if they zoom.I dont think it is proper for Google to be showing the houses exactly as they are. I think they should blur all the windows for privacy.

I applaude this village for standing up for itself. As a group they are making a choice. That is the democratic way.

Lastly... I worked for Canada census in 06 and I had to be fully vetted by the RCMP to be able to handle personal data. This was for the government. Google is a private company, collecting data, and it has been proven they were collecting WIFI info as well as they passed- to the level of complete emails and passwords. This makes me tremendously uncomfortable. No one holds them accountable for what they do with data. If I want to splash my info around in an insecure fashion, that is my affair. I dont want google to be doing it for me.
13:42 November 4, 2010 by delvek
So many people lining up to smack around the village idiot who dares to defy big money corporations. Sad.

I commend the village and its endeavor. I hope they are successful.
15:31 November 4, 2010 by moistvelvet
Comment: @ovbg absolutely agree, all points spot on! @Zobirdie, you too are also correct, of course your sis's TV can be seen and if someone in her position chose to break the law and not have a TV license then they could be caught and prosecuted for something they did in their own home. Obviously this is a total invasion of privacy where someone is prevented from freely breaking laws of the land, if Google's Street View were around decades earlier then it might have stopped many people from expressing their desire to commit crime... obviously this is a sarcistic comment and your example is a poor one, however if you had said your sister often walks naked in her livingroom then you might have a point, but other than that you don't because she could always close the curtains. As for the village idiots, I wonder how many have just used Google earth to search for Parum, a place they or anyone else would never have heard of if they hadn't shouted about it, idiots!
20:06 November 4, 2010 by ebbelwoiguy
Privacy for the exterior of a house is a bizarre concept, let alone for an entire village. I wonder how tolerant that village would be towards a resident who dissented? Perhaps if they put up a high fence and turned it into a gated community they could keep the rest of the world safely at bay.

The only way to achieve such privacy is to acquire a very large property with a house set far from the road and screened by trees.

When walking down the street, wearing something that conceals your identity points to other issues.

Were people so fearful of having their names, addresses and numbers printed in a thick yearly book in times past?
21:48 November 4, 2010 by Deutschguy
I don't get the paranoia about it. There are three houses in which I've lived that are on Google street view. Because everyone else on the street and in town were revealed similarly, I didn't feel threatened by it.

I have used Street View to make sure I knew landmarks for reaching a new destination, with which I wasn't familiar. I also have used it to view streets, surrounding houses, and neighborhoods for real estate I was or might have been interested in.

True, I don't have memories of the Stasi or anything like that, but anybody can case my house for a robbery or drive down the street and take a photo of it. What's the big deal?
00:38 November 5, 2010 by McIce
Don't criticise Mother Internet. She has to know everything - and you should post everything about you online bitte.
02:17 November 5, 2010 by antrodemus
Google should have sent out letters three months in advance advising people to rake their leaves and polish their garden gnomes for the photo shoot. Then no one would have complained.
05:39 November 5, 2010 by Georg123
Dont you wonder what's going on in this "Kaff" so they want all be being pixelated?

I have horrible, horrible pictures in my mind of unspeakable evil "performed" in this cow village - so unsightly and ugly i cannot even speak of it. Just a hint: Some of those cows are REALLY good looking..and some of the Bauern (Farmers) there could be very bored and lonely...just saying, just saying....
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