the whole street view uk kafuffle


A little, previously unknown and quiet Buckinghamshire village by the name of Broughton has hit the news for ‘standing up’ to Google in the latest example of hysteria surrounding their much vaunted (by me) street view service. A handful of residents there successfully managed to deter the Google camera car by forming a vigilante type mob and waving pitchforks and crosses at it. Or something like that..

… once Paul Jacobs spotted the Google camera when he glanced out his window on Wednesday, the photographers did not get far. The car was an unmarked black Opel, but the 360-degree camera on the roof was a bit of a giveaway. Jacobs rushed round banging on neighbours’ doors, and soon had a posse surrounding the driver. When one of the residents called the police, there was a swift U-turn. Jacobs said there had been three burglaries in the last six weeks: “If our houses are plastered all over Google, it’s an invitation for more criminals to strike.


In fact, since the UK version launched a few weeks ago, there have been a multitude of privacy rows in the press and plenty of nervousness in affluent leafy suburbs. This idea that being able to see a photo of a house will cause crime is all too oft cited. I don’t know if anybody has pointed out to Paul Jacobs that burglars have been successful on at least 3 occasions in recent times, without the benefits of street view, but it seems that he’s made his mind up, and has possibly also never heard of logic. So who am I to argue? Also, the fact that burglars are generally opportunistic creatures slightly puts a dampener on the idea of stripy-topped villains looking for targets on their iPhones and then driving to them with the built in satnav.

Nonetheless, the media love this type of shit. I don’t remember such a fuss over the initial launch of street view, but then maybe that’s because it wasn’t in my country. I mean, there were some complaints about photos but most people seemed to accept Google’s promise that they blur any faces and personal stuff and that they would remove any image on request. They still have that promise, and a few people here have taken them up on it. Notably, the guy spotted coming out of a sex shop. Incidentally, how did he find himself on Google? Surely he must have started up streetview and went straight to look at the shop front of his local porn merchant? Who does that? Anyway, at least some people are content with letting Google continue their work and waiting to see the results before getting all twisted. Also, who the fuck cares about a house in Broughton? And surely the place is even less private now that it’s been all over the news(?) The residents don’t seem too fussed about having their soul captured by the evil beings with cameras, as long as those cameras don’t have a multicoloured company name in a bad font on the side.

(* not original ‘John Holmes’ face. replaced to maintain his privacy.)

I for one, love streetview. I’ve been using it for years now; mostly fueled by holiday planning (the views of L.A. are great) but also just because it’s there. I’ve literally spent hours looking at film locations, places I’ve heard about in songs, potential holiday destinations, places I’ve been, random interesting sights, etc.. I’m not trying to pretend that that’s a cool way to spend time, but it can be fun, and more pertinently, it’s harmless. The technology is great, and until the court case that features a burglar confessing about the map he created of spots to run up in (complete with directions), then I will maintain my view that Broughton is one village that has the idiot/normal ratio the wrong way ’round.

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