tech

Group seeks to scrap Google's Street View

37 Comments

A group of Japanese journalists, professors and lawyers demanded Friday that the U.S. Internet search giant Google scrap its Street View service in Japan, saying it violates people's privacy.

Google launched Street View in the United States last year, providing pictures of panoramic all-around street-level views at locations on its online maps.

The service was expanded to 12 major cities in Japan in August and six cities in France in October.

The group said it sent a petition to Google's Japanese subsidiary, demanding an end to the Street View service in Japan.

They wrote that Street View "constitutes violent infringement on citizens' privacy by photographing residential areas, including community roads, and publishing their images without the consent of communities and citizens."

They complained that via the Internet, Street View was distributing private information "more easily, widely, massively and permanently than ordinary cameras and surveillance cameras do."

Local municipalities in Tokyo and Osaka have already appealed to the national government to take action against the site.

The Google Japanese unit earlier said it was blurring the faces of people seen in Street View scenes by special technology and that it would delete the pictures of people and buildings upon request.

Japan has stricter protections on privacy in public than in the United States, with Japanese able to stop their pictures from being used against their will.

© Wire reports

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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Google Street View is extremely helpful in navigating around Japan. Google will remove your building if you request. Rather than trying to shut down this useful service, the petitioners should simply ask Google to remove their buildings if they don't want them included.

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But a japanese gps system can show a animated image of the same thing, and in pretty clear definition, and nobody says crap about that.

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I have had this argument with some Japanese people they are so obsessed about the private space, the concept of "inside and outside". Street view is brilliant, extremely useful ESPECIALLY in Japan where streets have no names!! Its a life saver and I wish it had been around ages ago. They feel that street view is violating their inside sanctum. Japan despite being the worlds leading electronic maker is a nation full of Luddites! seriously, it is one of the greatest paradoxes in the World.

The Black Ships come 150 years ago.....yet still not getting with the program.

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Obviously it doesn't break any laws in Japan, no matter how this group dislikes it. It's a great tool (actually slightly addictive) and I've used it in Japan and the US to great effect, but not here in Canada as we've yet to allow it to run even the Google mobiles have already been and gone snapping their pics. I hope this group isn' big or influential.

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It is an irony that in the land of intrusive personal questions this group wishes to stop photographs of not private but public space. I think Google ought to ignore these people.

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Local municipalities in Tokyo and Osaka

Duh. All municipalities are local.

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I usually take the side of strictly defending privacy, but these images are nothing that you couldn't see by walking down the street. Should walking down the street and looking at people be illegal? What I like about StreetView is how the images are equally accessible to everyone, which is not the case with public security cameras. If we're going to have surveilance in public areas, which seems to be the way we're going, then the surveillance should be accessible to everyone, and not only to the government. As it stands, the authorities can pick and choose what pulic surveilance images to release.

Of course, the Japanese are free to decide their own standards, but I think they should be cognizant of the above.

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This is really hypocritical in a way.

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Just like the Segway...if a Japanese company had done this, there would be no problem. As everyone has said, Streetview is even more useful here than in most other countries. Yes, if we can have our actual faces recorded by numerous cameras in public than the argument is gone.

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Fair point, Nessie.

And I agree with Flammenwerfer about this being particularly useful in Japan (had never before realised that U2 were singing about Japan....) I've used it to good effect in NZ too.

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A grassroots effort to effect policy change... in JAPAN!? And it has to be against Street View! How about railing against random police searches, obnoxious fascist vans, or daredevil bicycles on the sidewalk?

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But then I wouldn't be able to "take a stroll" down the Kyoto streets where I used to live, and "visit" nostalgic places like Smile Burger! :(

Japan does go a bit overboard with its privacy. I've seen scenes on Japanese news/variety shows where they are filming at a location, and EVERYTHING is blurred out except the host. And the person he's talking to, although that person's face is also usually blurred. The ground is clear, but the buildings, the street signs, the faces of people walking by - all meticulously censored. It makes me wonder why they bother to film at all, when you can't even tell where they're supposed to be.

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They probably don't like that non-Japanese can see them spitting, urinating, violating traffic rules etcetera and generally finding that the Japanese aren't unique or special but just hum-drum humans like the rest of us.

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Google is too big and the fact that they did not ask it the main problem. The images are definitely useful but why should a company just go to another country and film everything without permission.

As far as I am concerned Americans have far too much influence on Japanese society as it is. Privacy is important to a persons freedom but maybe that gets lost in translation.

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It might have been worth mentioning the name of the mysterious "group." It is The Campaign Against Surveillance Society and a mention that the spokesman for the group, Yasuhiko Tajima, is a constitutional lawyer and that the group concerns itself with more than google.

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Interesting case. I used Street View to map my way to my mother-in-law's apartment from the bus stop in case of emergency. I never noticed anything I'd consider offensive, private, or sensitive. I've never been able to make out a face, address, or license plate.

When the news channels broadcast from the streets in Japan, are they subjected to the same sensitivity to privacy?

This seems so two-faced coming from a country where many TV comedy shows routinely sneak into people's homes, eavesdrop, film surreptitiously, humiliate people in public, etc. Japan is infamous for its IR cameras used to film women in public and 'upskirt' photographers...

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Why are Japanese people so obssessed about things like this? Its such a good tool.

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Do you mean " why are Japanese people so obsessed with the constitution?" The "group" is defending the constitution.

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Interesting that their was no hue and cry when they initially brought out regular maps. They removed all the ownership labels on privately owned houses from the original maps that Zenrin provided to them, EXCEPT for ones owned by foreigners with katakana names. You used to be able to put an X directly on my house by typing in my last name in katakana and the local area where I lived.

A nastygram email to Google legal suggesting that this may be in violation of the personal information protection law and a month later all of them were gone.

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Google is too big and the fact that they did not ask it the main problem.

How and who would they ask? there are options to blur out things if you request it, so if its really a big issue, it can be resolved.

The images are definitely useful but why should a company just go to another country and film everything without permission.

Go to another country???? what?? This is Google Japan - google.co.jp, nobody is going anywhere, Google is an International entitiy, they were already here. Google Japan is a Japanese based company providing services to Japanese people in Japan.

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how come you can buy a chintai map that has every house owners name printed on it? seems like gaijin doing something the japanese do is bad but japanese doing it is fine.

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Japan is not the only country to have a problem with this.

They really should just use technology to completely remove all people and all cars. Then it might be ok.

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how come you can buy a chintai map that has every house owners name printed on it? seems like gaijin doing something the japanese do is bad but japanese doing it is fine.

There is a big difference between a square drawn on a map with your name on it and a picture of your street complete with you going in your house with your mistress that your wife just happens to see while surfing the net on her overseas trip.

I almost typed another scenerio, but I don't give anybody any ideas. Lets just say this could also be used to facilitate all kinds of crime and not just against property. Some people stake places out, but its a time consuming process. I don't want to facilitate those people in any way.

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Due to abence and/or abuse of certain laws in Japan, some Japanese have become overly paranoid about their, "privacy" and they can take it too extremes.

But on the other hand, there have been other cases of embarrassing events involving Google Street View. There was a newspaper reported case in Australia where a man's car was photographed outside his ex-girlfriend's house ... she asked him over to enteratain him apparently, but ended very badly when the man's wife found the shot on Google. Maybe just bad timing in his case hehe.

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why dont these civil libertarians get all heated about other websites? how about this one? a live video feed of Dotonburi bridge in Osaka? http://tombori.com/livecam/

Nothing like people jumping on the bandwagon of one narrow specific cause.

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why dont these civil libertarians get all heated about other websites? how about this one? a live video feed of Dotonburi bridge in Osaka? http://tombori.com/livecam/

Scope? Not being omnipotent?

I did not know about Street View until I read this article. I did not know about the bridge video feed until you posted it, and man, footage of people crossing a bridge is whole other ball of wax to taking a pic of a guy walking into a porn shop.

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taking a pic of a guy walking into a porn shop.

actually, thats an interesting point, there are numerous websites out there where boffins can send in street view links of funny or interesting picture: people getting pulled over by cops, people fighting, etc. I can especially see the former being quite embarrassing for the driver, their indiscretion is forever available online for others to laugh at.

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It might have been worth mentioning the name of the mysterious "group." It is The Campaign Against Surveillance Society and a mention that the spokesman for the group, Yasuhiko Tajima, is a constitutional lawyer and that the group concerns itself with more than google.

So, does Campaign Against Surveillance Society plan to take action against Location View (www.locaview.com), which also provides street level imagery of major Japanese metropolitan areas? While Location View isn't as easily accessible as Google's service, anyone willing to use online translation tools can register, log in and view its images. I did, and I can't read Japanese.

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There no law against walking down the street and seeing these things with my own eyes. What's the difference that I can do it virtually?

This "Campaign Against a Surveillance Society," a small group to be sure, can't seriously expect people to believe that the view while walking through a neighborhood is privately protected space, can they?

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Why not scrap out Earth Google too, since streeview is also a feature on that program too? Google already is willing to remove views of areas that are either privately owned streets and military establishments (but you can still view them from Earth Google). If people are so concerned about their privacy, then stay indoors or within the confines of your backyard, and then no one can complain about your privacy being violated.

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It might have been worth mentioning the name of the mysterious "group." It is The Campaign Against Surveillance Society and a mention that the spokesman for the group, Yasuhiko Tajima, is a constitutional lawyer and that the group concerns itself with more than google.

Thanks, Proxy, that's good to know. I wonder what specific legal argument they're using.

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Personally I think the Street View is excellent. There have been many times where I missed something totally and had to rely upon the Street View to find it properly. I think people in Japan are being parnoid for nothing.

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I guess I don't see the point of protesting this. It's not like they are publishing the pictures taken by the cameras installed in your televisions.

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These aren't real-time pictures - they're one-off shots. For example, the street view of our house here in NZ was taken months ago, in the middle of winter (I can tell from the mud on the bit where we park our cars). You can't see the registration of the car, and in the shot for our address, you can't even see our house - the views are blocked by a couple of trees in our front garden. In order to find someone you were looking for, you'd have to know exactly where they were at a particular time and hope that the Google pic was taken at the same time. It's certainly not a stalker's friend....

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I think the problem is not only the face of people in the street. If I'm not wrong, when you record a movie (commercial movie) in the street, you need to ask every owner if they agree to let their house being shown on the footage. That's why "lost in the translation" was recorded on the run ... Here, Google use it as a commercial product (even if it is free) so the same laws should be applied.

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Privacy is something that we in America used to have. I dont blame the Japanese for trying to protect it in this day and age of new toys and gadgets.

They do go overboard with the news broadcasts where i can't see anything on the screen.

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Japan may have strict legislation for protecting privacy, but it is BS in practice! My Ward Office has twice released my address to groups of elementary school kids (or teachers, I never got a straight answer out of them) whose homework was to interview a foreigner.

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