Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) added a feature to its Google Maps called Street View which is making some people ask the question: How private is private? Street View offers panoramic views of miles of streets around San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Denver.
Here are some examples of pictures that make people nervous:
- Two young women sunbathing in their bikinis on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, CA.
- A man scaling the front gate of an apartment building in San Francisco.
- An apartment building in Oakland, CA with a picture of a couple's cat, sitting on a perch in the living room window of their second-floor apartment.
- A man standing in front of a lap dance establishment in San Francisco, CA
- A man entering a pornographic bookstore in Oakland, CA.
- Cars whose license plates are clearly readable.
Google says that people can opt out of Street View. To help with that process, I suggest Google offer an image search tool that will let people pop their picture into the search box to see whether it appears in Street View.
Do you think Google's opt out policy makes Street View acceptable?
Peter Cohan is President of Peter S. Cohan & Associates, a management consulting and venture capital firm. He also teaches management at Babson College and edits The Cohan Letter. He has no financial interest in Google.