Google Maps’ Street View Helps Fight Crime!

It is no secret that we are big fans of Google products. After all, we have written almost 100 articles which mention the company or one of its products. So it was quite exciting when Google showed up in the news lately for its use in police detective work.

Google Maps' Street View  

According to an article in the Worcester Telegram (also reported by TechCrunch), police used Google’s Street View product to locate and rescue a kidnapped child. Using the GPS coordinates of the missing girl’s cell phone (obtained from the cell phone carrier every time the phone was activated), police were able to retrieve street view and satellite images which enabled them to survey the area ahead of time and guess which building the kidnapped girl was in.

So with help from Google, a crime was averted.

Unfortunately, Not Everyone Likes Street View

Ever since its launch, there have been an endless stream of complaints and lawsuits from people who claimed that Street View was a violation of privacy. After all, street view images show great detail and have been known to include people, albeit with blurred faces. And for some homeowners who prize their privacy, knowing that anyone can take a quick view of their homes from an internet browser can be unsettling. (For a great list of some of the best street view sightings, showing sunbathers, potential burglary attempts, prostitutes, and more, see the Wired blog.)

So there have been a flurry of lawsuits and content removals. Most noteworthy, Google removed all images that it has taken of US military bases, as well as private streets and towns. And Google has always taken special precaution to protect people by not showing things such as domestic violence shelters and other similar agencies.

So, is Street View good or bad? Personally, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with Google’s Street View feature. I have used it while traveling or when visiting a new address. And as long as faces, license plates, and other identifying information are removed, a reasonable degree of privacy is maintained.

 

What do you think? Do the benefits of using the Street View feature of Google Maps outweight the privacy issues? Should homeowners, towns, or cities have a right to request removal?

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7 Responses to “Google Maps’ Street View Helps Fight Crime!”

  • Wei Liang | Earn Money Online January 8, 2009 at 7:54 am

    The street map is good for daily usage but I heard that it is a dangerous doing as well. It is easy for terrorists to execute their planning when intending to attack an area. Not realyl sure how true it is but it does make sense

    Wei Liang

    • Velvet Blues January 8, 2009 at 9:10 am

      I suppose it could save terrorists a lot of work and suspicion by letting them survey areas via Google Maps.

      But in terms of all of these lawsuits, I think that they are unwarranted. For the most part, these homes are on public streets and anyone walking by could just as easily take a snapshot… It is not like Google is showing people things that cannot already be easily obtained by taking a walk with a camera.

  • Ajith Edassery | DollarShower January 9, 2009 at 3:18 am

    There are definitely good and bad things about any innovation. If used judiciously anything can be good. However, miscreants and terrorists can actually use it the wrong way. I thought this was a pretty good stuff and so is Google Earth (Though many countries now fear that any property is pinpointed even by a common man.

    As long as Google doesnt come up with Google Bedroom View or Google Bathroom View I am okay with it :lol:

  • Ben Pei January 17, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Wow haha this is cool.. I didn’t know it happened!

  • Julie Forey June 7, 2011 at 4:24 am

    We use google maps combined with streetview to provide a UK crime reporting site that allows incidents to be immediately and instantly geo-located.

    The main site page is on:
    http://www.citizensreportuk.org/

    The crime reporting page on:
    http://www.citizensreportuk.org/report_crime.html

    The site got an endorsement from a UK government crime reform report by Baroness Newlove at the end of March 2011

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