Growing privacy concerns over Google's Street View

and the digital economy, expressed his distrust in the search engine’s promises of consumer-centrism: “When it comes to their attitude to their own censorship, their response is simply, ‘trust us’. That is what they actually state on their website: ‘Trust us’.”

The European Commission has been urging the U.K. government to improve facets of their data protection systems and to begin implementing more effective safeguards for British citizens. The commission has found flaws within the Data Protection Directive established in 1995 which regulates the processing of personal data within the EU. The Commission said the ICO had not taken other privacy protection practices around the world into account, which jeopardizes their international transferring of data. Secondly, it cannot perform random checks on people or data processing organizations, nor can it enforce subsequent penalties. The power of the court to refuse people the right to have information about themselves edited or deleted is also a point of contention.

Which brings us back to the UAV. Google’s earlier headline of having purchased a UAV has left many uneasy, especially since the executive who purchased the surveillance gadget had only stated it would be used for “personal purposes.” UAVs could be used further to map out Street View locations, but they could also infringe on privacy. One example, reported by the Guardian, is the surveillance network being used in the United Kingdom to monitor suspicious and criminal behavior, and the involvement of arms manufacturer BAE in this surveillance scheme. Even with the comprehensive CCTV surveillance system installed around the United Kingdom., the Civil Aviation Authority has been told by the Kent police, as well as by BAE ,that the deployment of UAVs would drastically improve and “revolutionize policing.” The systems should be effective in time for the 2012 Olympics.

The implementation of such surveillance and data-gathering systems is leaving less and less room to the imagination. Google street view plans on beginning its campaign in Germany by the middle of September, although widespread concern over privacy issues has residents eager to censure images of their dwellings. Google offers home owners the opportunity to submit a request to have their houses taken off the service, but a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail that “Processing these requests and applying blurring is a complex task which takes time… So we need to receive all requests by September 15 to allow time to process, verify and then apply the blurring, before we make Street View available in Germany.”

Microsoft is working on a similar, if not more fluid, version of Google’s street view called Street Slide. The browsing street level imagery service is still in development but boasts seamlessness and an entirely immersive map experience. Google boasts of having developed “cutting-edge face and license plate blurring technology that is applied to all Street View images,” yet there is no word on whether or not these images could be clarified in the event that evidence is needed to solve a crime or to resolve a security threat. Such services will have to be scrutinized and agreed upon by international standards to ensure that the inadvertent interception of private data does not occur in the future.