Some Improvements to Google Street View

Aug 23, 2007
Nicole A. Ozer

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

In May and June of this year, we had several blog posts about privacy concerns associated with the new Google Street View service. See here.

The Street View photographs included identifiable people and license plates and the procedures for requesting take-down of that information was more difficult than it should have been.

There was not a direct link from the image to request take-down and Google asked for a significant amount of personal information in order to complete the process and show that you were the actual person or owner of the car that was photographed. See here.

Google has changed its policy. Now anyone can alert the company and have an image of a license plate or a recognizable face removed, not just the actual individual or the owner of the car. See more information here and here.

But, while Google has expanded who can request take-down, it has not made the interface for initiating the process more intuitive for people. Google has reported that very few people have asked for an image to be removed. See here.

Likely due in part to the fact that there is no direct link from a Street View image to request take-down of a photo for privacy or security concerns. Individuals must know to click on the "Street View Help" link at the top of any image and then scroll down to the bottom of that box and click on "Report Inappropriate Image." See here.

If Google is really serious about ensuring that people can protect their privacy and security by requesting take-down of images, they should add a direct link entitled "Request Take Down" or "Flag for Removal" to the top of each Google Street View image.