Worried about privacy? Forget about Street View

Google Street View
Google Street View stops at your front door. Other organisations don't

Google Street View has only been live for a few days in the UK and already it's causing a privacy storm.

The service has attracted stacks of newspaper coverage, with papers such as the Express explaining that "critics... fear the service could be used by burglars" and the Mail talking about how Street View may be "a gross invasion of privacy that could leave homes vulnerable to crime and people open to embarrassment.".

It's just a matter of time before attention-seeking politicians start blabbing on about it, too.

Before we pay too much attention to the headlines and the soundbytes, though, we should perhaps wonder if there are more sinister invasions of privacy than a Google car taking shots in the street.

For example, we could start with newspapers. The Express's sister paper, the Scottish Sunday Express, invaded Dunblane survivors' privacy earlier this month by befriending them on Facebook and using their photos and status updates to claim they were "SICK MESSAGES" that "SHAME[D] MEMORY OF CLASSMATES". Or take the Daily Mail, which has hired private investigators to "obtain illegal information". It's not the only newspaper to do so, either.

But that pales into insignificance compared to the government. According to the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, the government is happily storing all our details on illegal databases. According to Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University, who co-authored the report, "Britain's database state has become a financial, ethical and administrative disaster which is penalising some of the most vulnerable members of our society."

The report claims that one in four major government databases is "almost certainly illegal" under human rights or data protection legislation, with 11 of 46 systems being utterly dodgy and a further 29 looking pretty shaky too. You can read the full report here.

Google Street View stops at your front door. Newspapers and governments don't.


Sign up for the free weekly TechRadar newsletter
Get tech news delivered straight to your inbox. Register for the free TechRadar newsletter and stay on top of the week's biggest stories and product releases. Sign up at http://www.techradar.com/register

Follow TechRadar on Twitter

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.