Canadian government concerned about Google ‘Street View’ maps

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Mountain View (CA) - Canadian government officials are concerned that a planned rollout of Google’s Street View maps could violate the country’s privacy laws.  Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says snapshots of people, buildings and store fronts might be too invasive and has requested more information from Google and Immersive Media, the company that Google has contracted to perform the photographs.

Immersive Media and Google have already rolled out Street View maps for many cities in the United States.  The pictures have become somewhat controversial after netizens started combing through the snapshots trying to find people in interesting situations.  Several websites have spawned, like the Street View Gallery, that show the best pictures.

Stoddart says the proposed service might violate the PIPEDA Act which stands for the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act.  She adds that the pictures would not meet the Act’s test of “knowledge, consent and limited collection”.

Of course Google and Immersive have been taking the pictures in plain sight, something anyone with a digital or mobile phone camera can already do by themselves.  The question, in this case, is apparently the scope of the picture collection and the permanency of the data.  In effect, the pictures become a permanent record of people’s actions, something that has already caused privacy concerns in the United States.