Google Maps: An Invasion of Privacy?

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Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

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Bankston, though, who himself is viewable on a street view photograph walking to work, says that these Street Views represent an ominous invasion of privacy. "We're moving into a future where not only must you realize the risk that you might be photographed in public, but where it's becoming a near certainty that you will be captured any time you go out," he says. "It's indicative of the direction in which we're moving — where everything occurring anywhere is Google-able."

Despite his concerns, Bankston says that Google could end the Street View controversy with a simple solution. "Just by obscuring the faces of people," he says, "it would eliminate the privacy concerns of those attending an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting, leaving a reproductive health clinic or attending a controversial political event. Admittedly, it's a difficult computational problem, to find a way to obscure every face that can be seen through Street View, but Google has perhaps the largest braintrust that has ever existed on the planet, and if anyone could solve the problem, it would certainly be the geniuses at the Google-plex."

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