Google Maps project raises privacy concerns in Finland
Streets and thousands of buildings being photographed for web service
The online service Google has embarked on a project to photograph all main urban streets in Finland. The survey is for Google’s map service, and it has already been implemented in a number of countries.
The process is raising some privacy concerns in Finland.
The pictures are being taken by cameras mounted on moving vehicles, and they are to be placed on the Internet as a seamless street view, which the user can view on his or her computer or mobile telephone.
The streets that are being photographed in Finland now will not be seen on line for a few months at least.
The pictures also show the people and cars moving around on the streets, which has raised some privacy concerns.
Google plans to initially take pictures of the public streets of all largest cities, says Stefan Keuchel, the company’s director of public relations in Europe. He insists that the company always obeys local legislation.
“We need to ascertain how we take the requirements of Finnish law into consideration in the service.”
Google says that it will automatically blur the faces of the people and car licence plate numbers. However, on existing versions of the service in other countries, there are faces and licence numbers that have not been blurred.
Furthermore, blurring the face is not enough if the person in the picture can be identified on the basis of the clothing he or she is wearing, or the location where the picture was taken.
Streets have already been photographed extensively in many countries, and in some cases, pictures of people fighting have reached the web.
Finding amusing scenes in the Google pictures has become something of a hobby in some countries.
Drawing the line on where privacy is violated is usually assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Communications law expert Päivi Tiilikka says that photographing the front yard of a house when there are people there, could be seen as a violation of domestic privacy.
Another expert, Jukka Kemppinen, Professor of information law, says that a yard without a fence around it does not necessarily fall within the parameters of domestic privacy; taking pictures through a window is illegal, in his view.
The pictures are taken from a moving vehicle with cameras mounted on the roof pointed in all directions.
Google Maps, Finland
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