Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Big Brother is Googling

If you haven’t tried this already, go to Google Maps and click on “Street View.” If you live in an area with a camera icon over it or covered by the blue splotches on the map, type in your address and hit Search. When it brings up the address, click on the Street View link. Chances are it will show you a picture of the house — or be really close to it. You can manipulate the picture 360 degrees, go up the street or down to the corner; anywhere that’s outlined in blue. (Wow, I’d better cut the grass.)

It’s a good way to waste an afternoon; I went and visited the house I grew up in and just about every other place I’ve lived. But when you think about it, it’s creepy as hell. While I know it’s perfectly legal to take a picture of a house from a public street, to me this is a stalker’s dream come true, especially with just about everybody’s address out there on the internet. I have noticed that the photographs blur out names on mailboxes and numbers on license plates, but the address is posted at the top of the map.

My brother tells me that Google has been sued by a couple of people; one was walking down the street and was caught in the picture, and another was a homeless guy who was caught sleeping in a doorway (Legal Aid helping him to sue). Sheesh.