Friday, 12 March 2010


So it has finally arrived.  Brighton, and presumably much of the UK, can now be seen on Google's Street View.  When it was announced last year that Google intended publishing Street View pictures of England, there was something of an outcry from people who claimed that their privacy would be invaded.  But how can anyone's privacy be invaded when all Google do is publish pictures that are taken from the street?  Anybody driving or walking along the street can see as much as, and often more than, can be seen on Street View.  And from the top deck of a bus the view is even better.  Far more invasive of privacy are the aerial views published by MultiMap, but nobody seems to have been bothered by them.

My personal view is that those people who kicked up such a fuss could have found far more important things to rant about.  I wonder if they realised that we in England are the most spied-upon people in the world?  Go into the centre of any town and you will see CCTV cameras bristling from every building and many street corners.  This, it is claimed, is to combat crime, but I suspect that all it does is push criminals into performing their nefarious deeds either in a place that has no coverage from a camera (in which case I suppose it could be claimed that the cameras have worked, albeit that would be a somewhat dubious claim) or in full view of one or more cameras in the confidence that they would not be identifiable from the film - or that they just couldn't care less.  While I don't much like the idea of Big Brother watching over me, I can just about put up with all those CCTV cameras.  The use of anti-terrorist legislation to prevent people taking photographs in public places is something else.  OK, in most cases this has been down to over-zealous police officers, but I would have thought the one who tried to stop somebody photographing Christmas illuminations should have had more sense.  Since when are terrorists interested in a few coloured light bulbs strung across a street?  We are also told that taking a photograph of a police officer - or even a photograph of a scene with a police officer in it - could be construed as an offence.

It seems to me we are in the classic situation where the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

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