Saturday, June 2, 2007

Time to get a life

Sometimes, privacy advocates raise serious issues that should worry all of us. What happens, say, when your bank records, medical records, and credit card purchase records are all accessible through giant databases? What happens when poor security at one retailer puts millions of people at risk for identity theft?

And sometimes, you have to wonder why they don't spend all that energy on world hunger or something. The latest non-issue concerns Google Street View, which shows street level photos of a particular address. For instance, one woman found an image of her cat sitting in her apartment window. Panic ensued.

Never mind that the courts have repeatedly held that there is no expectation of privacy on a public street. Google has a larger audience, but newspapers, law enforcement, and your neighbors have always been free to watch and take pictures from outside your property lines. If you don't want people or their cameras to see in your windows, close the curtains or plant a hedge.

(Full disclosure: My husband works for Google, though not on this project. It would be a silly non-issue even if he didn't, though.)

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