Google Street View has arrived in eight more U.S. cities.
Can’t get enough of virtually cruising your favorite cities in America via Google Street Views? If not, there is good news. Google has added eight new cities to its growing list of U.S. locations that allow you to browse and explore 360-degree panoramic views of highways, streets, and cul-de-sacs.
With this week’s additional cities Google now offers Street Views of 23 cities. Cities added this week include Boston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Detroit, and Providence. Google’s last Street View addition came in October.
The Boston Globe reports on the reactions in Boston.
“We take privacy concerns seriously,” said Stephen Chau, product manager for Google Maps. “All these images are taken on public streets. It’s exactly what you could see walking down the street.”
But while Google has developed technology that can obscure faces and license plate numbers in Street View images, the Mountain View, Calif., company has said it will blur faces and plate numbers only in countries where it is required to do so, not in the United States.
Street View’s rollout in Boston is part of a larger debut of the feature today in eight more cities, including Providence, Dallas, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. Google officials yesterday said they could not specify which Boston or suburban streets would be visible. The service covers only certain streets and neighborhoods in the cites where it’s now available, although in some locations, such as San Francisco, the majority of streets have been photographed. Google plans eventually to extend Street View to cities and towns of all sizes worldwide.
“As Google gets closer and closer to its stated goal of indexing all the world’s information, more and more issues arise,” said John G. Palfrey Jr., executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. “In the privacy realm, Google is asking people for a lot of trust. The ball is really in Google’s court to prove they’re not going to violate people’s privacy.”
Google, in refusing to blur faces in US cities, has faced a chorus of critics in cities already catalogued in Street View, such as San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, who have called on the company to install technology that will make people pictured more anonymous. One of Street View’s critics, Kevin Bankston, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a public interest group focusing on technology issues, was photographed on Street View smoking on his way to work in San Francisco.
“That was of concern to me because not all of my family knew I smoked,” Bankston said. Google ultimately removed the image at his request, but Bankston said the incident demonstrated the potential for worse abuse if other people were photographed going to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, health clinics for sensitive procedures, or other places that could compromise their privacy. He said he felt the Google feature was part of an ominous trend that included people taking pictures of others with camera phones and posting them on the Internet.
Julio Ojeda-Zapata reports on the reaction in theTwin Cities.
A few users are obsessed with finding what was playing at local movie theaters when the images were taken. The Stone Arch Cinema lists “Live Free or Die Hard,” “Knocked Up,” “Transformers” and the last “Harry Potter” flick on its marquee.
“It’s just plain fun to photographically cruise around town,” filmmaker Chuck Olsen said. “It’s like something out of a cyberpunk novel, without the danger and drugs.”
The images of the Twin Cities are “fascinating, an entire city frozen in – if not a moment – a fairly brief period,” Morrow said. “These photos – with their sunshine and green lawns – are making us all miss summer time.”
McPherson said “it’s even interesting to see a house near mine that had a tree fall on it during a storm in late August returned to its former glory.”
Street View triggered a heated discussion at MNspeak.com., with some commenters raising the privacy concerns echoed by others around the country. One person worried about Street View users looking to see where children live.
“What’s next?” another person wrote. “Googling and looking into homes and apartments. Hey! There’s my family! Eating dinner! The Internet is creepy.”