Saturday 4 April 2009

Google Street View must be banned NOW

Google Street View, the online website that allows burglars to rob your house without even stepping outside, came under fire today as The Daily Mail issued a rallying call to middle-class curtain twitchers to 'Stop it in it's tracks'.

Applauding the heroic actions of the furtive residents of Broughton in Buckinghamshire who martyred themselves at the wheels of a Google 'spy car' so commoners wouldn't be able to look at their lovely mock-Tudor houses and manicured bushes, The Mail asked plaintively why Parliament is taking so long to ban the sick service and protect us from 'The Google monster'.

Sources at Google revealed that the monster, a purple seven bellied frog-like creature with modems for eyes and keywords for arms, is kept chained up deep within the bowels of the Californian company's central lair and fed on a diet of usernames, passwords and internets.

In an exclusive interview with privacy crusader Paul Jacobs, who led the resistance force against the terrifying spymobile as it attempted to photograph his property, luddite Robert Hardman conveyed in vivid detail the epic battle of Broughton as the little Englanders repelled the invasion of their local town for local people by minions of the 'smug California-based cyber empire'.

Finding the 1984 style eye-wagon parked at the end of a cul-de-sac, Jacobs called for reinforcements to force 'matey from snooper command' to turn back and get off their land. The fearless band of men and women - a couple of housewives, a nurse, a Tory councillor and an energy consultant - stood firm as the sneering, dark eyed driver vainly attempted to squirm his way past the resolute human chain. Some witnesses report seeing the driver smacking his lips with a forked, serpentine tongue and scratching at what appeared to be a tail within his trousers.

After an hour and a half fighting with the man and poking him with pitchforks, the residents successfully ejected him from the village and he was forced to drive away in humiliation, as the victorious villagers cheered the removal of another threatening 'out-of-towner'.

Rebel leader Jacobs, who suffers from a lisp, told Hardman: 'I rather lost it, I'm afraid, and I used a word that I don't use very often.' It is thought the word was susurrus.

Hardman, without a shred of irony, described Jacobs as an 'international freedom fighter' and, predicting a forthcoming war against the Google machines, said that 'copycat rebellions now seem inevitable.'

But the Broughton incident has led to threats from cyber terrorists of a day of rampant unchecked photography in the small village as retaliation for Jacobs's successful counter-insurgency.

Organised on the hyperweb site 'Twitter', internet people are planning to descend upon the area to take hundreds of their own photographs in an attempt to force webocracy upon the brave little Englanders.

They have already begun posting pictures of the village online and used the photographs to post burglary masterplans and images of middle-class residents running in fear from the savage glare of their cameras. It is thought house prices have already begun to tumble as a direct result, while crime levels may have risen by a certain amount as well.

The organised orgy of aggressive imaging has led to increased calls for Twitter, which exposes children to pornography, prostitution and drugs, to be banned along with Street View and all other new things.


  1. Jamie,

    I despise the Daily Mail but I kind of agree with this particular stance.

    Why? I've been cyber-stalked before, I had some arsehole take pics of my wife and post them on a footie board for "comments" about how fit she was.

    Yes, I did go to the cops about it. And you know what they advised me? Don't press charges or it might "escalate".

    I wouldn't really want my house to be a subject of derision either. Nor would I want my car type & colour shown for all to comment on.

    This is a charter for stalkers. You might disagree but have you been in my position? I doubt it.

  2. PS: I'm Scottish, not a "little Englander"

    And I am a software engineer with 20 years of experience as well, so please don't lecture me on how little I know about technology and its uses.

    Cheers again,

  3. Scott,

    You have my sympathies for the situation you had to deal with re: cyber stalkers, and any case where vindictiveness is tolerated or ignored by authorities should be highlighted. In answer to your question, no I haven't been in your position.

    When it comes to the coverage of Street View though, I have trouble agreeing with the tabloid view that its sole purpose is to invade private residents' privacy and facilitate crime. I can't see it being used as a very helpful tool for burglaries or indeed stalking when physically going to and looking at the area in question remains the more efficient method of planning and executing nefarious deeds.

    I don't think simply hosting pictures of places that you can quite easily see if you walk down the street is ever going to increase crime or enable stalking.

    My other problem with the article is the celebration of small town torch waving by people who I very much doubt even know what they're angry at. It's the type of reaction The Mail is designed to elicit, and they jump on the chance to highlight it on the very rare occasion it actually happens, in a kind of 'You could be this angry too!' way. These villagers are an exception; Street View would not affect the lives of people like this 1 iota if it weren't for The Mail telling them how outraged they are. Normally I bet they wouldn't give a black car with a 10ft camera on top a passing thought, but, unfortunately, I bet there will now be the odd copycat incident.

    'Look Reg, there's that car from the internet. It's from out of town y'know, it must be stopped.'

  4. Jamie,

    I do agree with you that Street View has other purposes than helping burglars identify access points and escape routes.

    Yes, for wide public areas like London, Glasgow et al, it would be great to see the architecture, identify famous landmarks and so on. Virtual tourism is a great idea and one I am all for.

    However, I can't see why Street View would be interested in taking pictures of purely residential areas with nothing of interest? Surely the right to privacy must be asserted here?

    As I said, I've had a cyberstalker before, 3 years ago, and I think I would have done time for him had he posted pics of my house, car and place of work as well as my wife. How could I sleep knowing that everyone on the football forum knew what my wife looked like and what my house was like? I am lucky StreetView did not exist back then, I think.

    Anyway, on a positive note - I enjoy your blog. Keep it up.

  5. Scott (for the last time on this thread, promise!!)5 April 2009 at 20:23

    Oh yes, and just another word: you know I'm not trolling when you hear someone from Scotland defending (of a fashion) the anti-Scottish Mail.... they despise us jocks don't they? ffs

  6. Yeah you're not English enough, bloody foreigners comin' over here etc etc

    Your point about cyberstalking and Street View is interesting, and I agree, in cases of targeted, specific harassment it could be used for entirely the wrong purposes. In such cases I would hope that Google would respond to requests for removal of images of private property. It will be interesting to see if any such news crops up over coming months.