Friday, April 03, 2009

This headline cracked me up...

Gang of villagers chase away Google car

Why do I get a mental picture of a bunch of villagers waving pitchforks and torches at a moaning green car with big silver bolts sticking out of its fenders, played by Boris Karloff?

So, what's the legal precedent here? As far as I'm aware, taking pictures from a public thoroughfare is perfectly legal here in the USofA, but I'm not clear on the situation in the place where Great Britain used to be. Do you control the photons bouncing off your house?

My reflexive answer is "Pull up your big girl pants and deal with it."

Besides, you'd think that Englishmen would be pretty inured to lenses these days. Lord knows that your average Londoner has more cameras pointed at them than Britney Spears leaving an OB/GYN office.


Divemedic said...

I thought about that, and I think the reason they are unhappy with Google, but OK with the rest of the cameras is because the British government is running the other cameras. The people in Britain have become so dependent on government, that they are finally completely domesticated.

Where is V when you need him? That movie is fiction- the British people have lost any shred of spunk they may have once had. Sadly, there is no one left who is willing to wear a Guy Fawkes mask for freedom.

Anonymous said...

they chased the google cameras away...and put their neighborhood all over CNN. real successful.

Anonymous said...

"This headline cracked me up" . . .
Only a nitwit who lives somewhere than the real world could have written that comment. The villain is not some Karloff caricature bot Big Brother, and he is already on our doorsteps but in our homes and in our pockets. Government has not yet found a way to turn Google into a branch of the Department of Homeland (In)Security, but just wait a few years. It WILL happen. Then you won't think this is so funny.

Brian Dale said...

"Only a nitwit who lives somewhere than the real world could have written that comment."

I wish I had some popcorn...

Keith said...

I think it's funny that they seem to have no problem when the government runs the cameras, but when GOOGLE shows up it's torches and pitchforks time.

Noah D said...

The whole thing is funny and sad at the same time. Now I'm seeing Google-Herbie at the gates of some run-down church - 'Sanctuary! Sanctuary!'

Ryosuke said...

Government run cameras => Not publicly available and not widely accessible. Purpose is to catch crime, ie. if someone were to break into a house identified as "affluent" via google street view, then government camera could record crime. Two completely different uses for same technology.

Issue is not a matter of legality. Legal frameworks develop for the most part in a reactionary, not proactive, fashion to the crimes and threats they are meant to address. Until the absolute appropriate law for this issue is formulated, must go beyond the legal level and use our own personal judgement instead (ofcourse, taking into consideration not only what you want, but what the other affected parties want too)

knirirr said...

Here's a (slightly out of date) handy summary, useful for photographers who might find themselves harassed by the police or by PCSOs when taking photographs:

This suggests that Google hasn't been breaking the law, but the law seems to be typically vague. Most people seem very confused about what the law actually is and often seem to think that something they don't like must somehow be illegal.

Not all of us are particularly happy with the state's cameras. Unfortunately, those of us in the outer party are not well-placed to resist, and we'll not get any help from the proles.

Tam said...

Anon 12:50,

"Government has not yet found a way to turn Google into a branch of the Department of Homeland (In)Security,"

Listen, you mouth-breathing simpleton, the .gov doesn't need Google Maps; they have the KH-12 and the NRO.

If living in the 21st Century makes you sad and causes your psoriasis to flare up, move to Somalia. Else, pull up your big girl pants and deal with it.

milton f said...

One wonders just how long it will be before grubbermint *workers* are surfing the internet using google to find *revenue raising* infractions, violations of the building code or whatever.

William: "Dad, the government --"
Dad: "William, how many times do I have to tell you that I won't tolerate such language in our home? Say `those malignant bastards' instead."
William (sheepishly): "OK, Dad. I'm sorry."

(From William Grigg's Freedom in our time blog at )

Tam said...

milton f,

So the solution is... what? Banning photography in public places? Abolishing the internet? Personally, I'm all for moving the .gov back to clay tablets in the name of inefficiency, but it could be a tough sell...

og said...

Britney goes to the OB GYN? I( thought she just let them look at the pictures.

I wish I knew when the googlecar was coming by, I'd give them something to photograph. Better yet, line up in the front yard of a total stranger and moon the damned thing as a group.

Why is it that bloviating cowards all seem to be named "anonymous"?

Anonymous said...

Considering has orbital imaging systems that would make google maps look like cave drawings in comparison, why would anybody be concerned with a street photographer taking grainy photos of plainly visible objects? Could it perhaps be that .gov is too big and bad to resist but Google isn't?

og said...

(Not all people named "anonymous" are bloviating cowards, however. Just so I'm clear on the point)

Anonymous said...

My guess is that it is a question of control. The villagers have no control over what pictures/images/videos the gov't takes, so they displace any frustration on Google (which they, apparently, can control).

Stranger said...

Actually, the Brits are banning photography in most public places, and not a few private ones. No snaps at the birthday bash for you, me lad!

And if one of my expat Scots friends can be believed, there are no less than nine CCTV cameras in operation in just the city block fronting his London flat.

The gummitup admits it has more than 1 camera per 100 yards of streets and roads in all of Britain. That would take more than fifteen million CCTV cameras - and more than a half million sets of eyes on duty to monitor those cameras.

BUT budget readers say that the government has several times more cameras than they admit. That's pretty expensive, considering "Gun Free England" is "the most violent industrialized society on Earth" and "We are unable to find a single instance of a serous crime solved by use of the cameras."

Perhaps the Brits would be well advised to scrap the cameras and put cops on the street again.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. For one thing, traffic cameras in Britain are being destroyed at a higher rate than the ones here. Urban crime-cams get some rough trade as well, but ostensibly from another motivation.

We may be a little confused on the sequence of events here. It was VP Gore, you'll recall, who reset the clarity of the public product of military satellites. It's unlikely the boom market for publicly-available spy services like Google would have developed without that massive [taxpayer-funded] impetus. The first, and still primary, use of the AllPhoto was for involuntary reassessment of property tax bases, upward, and to serve the real estate industry that followed like a barrister behind a hurry-up wagon. In the simple mind of a kulak, a fresh photo indicates a new tax bill, every time.

The resulting database has helped, a little, with sending SWAT raids to the correct address, so I guess we should thank our stars, in a way, for that. But government agencies do use Google and similar products, every day, and for every purpose, just as you would expect power-wielding civil servants to try to improve their productivity. Some of these applications involve getting the police to an accident scene. Others could just as easily involve a gun-grabbing raid.

I was part of the agency that developed these applications,and continue to hold strong and (it seems to me) well-informed opinions about them and their impact on security and privacy. I'll just say for now that, on another day, in another mood, you would take exactly the opposite viewpoint. And you'd be right!

Anonymous said...

If contacted by the TV-show folks from "Lives of the Rich & Famous", the same protesters would have been hollering, "Me! Take me!" The camera crew whould have been taking photos of the whole area on the approach to the subject house.

Given my location, however, I rather doubt that the Google folks will drive by anytime soon. I enjoy their overhead view, however.,+texas&ll=29.356014,-103.590131&spn=0.006672,0.012802&t=k&hl=en

Me, I'm the white dot in the center.


Steve in Portland said...

People here seem to be confusing anonymity with privacy. If you live on a public street paid for by public tax dollars then Google, Microsoft or Jim-bob has the right to photograph. Only recently have we become completely paranoid to the fact that someone might know anything about us. If you want to live like Ted KKKaczynski and be "off-the-grid" so your neighbors (if you have any within 20 miles), friends, family don't know where you are or what you eat for breakfast then fine. Otherwise get out there and talk to your neighbors and start a neighborhood watch. Maybe then when some big bad burglar comes prowling through the neighborhood you will realize that they don't belong there and call the cops! Instead we have a bunch of people who like to pretend that there home is its own little island and when we see someone down the street we don't have a clue if they belong there or not. What is the scarier scenario?

Mattexian said...

I wish I knew when the googlecar was coming by, I'd give them something to photograph.
Heh, when they came by my house, they got an eyeful and I didn't know it til I looked myself. Quite simply, my truck in the driveway with big euro-style oval "TX" sticker, and Texas flag flapping on the front porch.

WV: eying-- hmm, no coincidence there, eh?

mts said...

All they needed were a couple of homeowners standing in the front yard sporting their home defense shotguns and pistols in hand, so the Google photographer can get an accurate image of the nature of the neighborhood. That way, any potential robber can put a "do not want" sticker on their part of the map.

Oh, they've banned guns in the land of the Magna Carta. Me forget.

If an illegal posse in a posh urban subdivision goes after a Google photographer doing his job, no one gets in trouble. If a farmer, kilometres from anyone hearing his "help me" cries, shoots an invader, he goes off to prison.

The English were once the meanest m.f.'s on Earth. The DNA remains; they've blanketed their temper, but it's still there. Instead of letting the English take care of themselves legally, they hobbled them and turned their heads. I'm afraid when John Bull awakens, it'll be Yugoslavia 1991-1999 all over again.

Wouldn't want to be there when the society's "market" corrects itself.

markm said...

I gather that what the villagers were worried about is that lazy burglars could substitute surfing Google for actually scouting out their next job. Since in the UK being "dangerous to burglars" may be cause for denying parole, that job is just as likely to be a deliberate home invasion when they know the family is home, so the burglar alarms are turned off and they get the additional thrill of administering a Clockwork Orange-style beating.

WV: phste. That could be the sound of me suppressing what I want to say about the British authorities because the kids are in earshot.

Anonymous said...

We, in some strange power's employ, move on a rigorous line.

Brian Dale said...

I'm starting to need to make diagrams to keep track of all of the Anonymice - no particular insult intended.

wv = "doemino" - right, that's what they said: "doe them insted"...somebody else...with yer green, scary, lightning-spitting GoogleMobile. {Oh Noooes...}

staghounds said...

Camera is white man's magic, steal soul.

Break camera! Let souls out!

staghounds said...

Hold hard, I've hunted through that place!

It's in the Pytchley country, I think. Or Warwickshire?

I can't remember, but I do remember the place. Strange.

Anonymous said...

Know what the hard part of missile warfare is? Linking the ground target to on-board navigation. Know what's sitting right there in the background linkies of Google Map & Photo Ltd.?

Three-stage rocketry is a world-wide hobby as of yesterday.

And the barcode on your forehead is a fashion statement.

Tam said...

The bar code on my forehead is covered nicely by my Reynold's Wrap yarmulke.

So, Ned, how do you advocate destroying the machines? The genie is, of course, well and truly out of the bottle. How are you going to write that legislation? The .gov are The Only Ones In This Room qualified to have GPS coordinates?

Anonymous said...

You could start by not laying down and spreading them. The only "legislation" involved here is on your side, making it easier to aggregate the data and put it in circulation, and subsidizing its links to ".gov" one-meter geographic information. That genie is eminently re-bottlable, but it would make your World of Warcraft less vivid, and you'd have to learn to read a map.

Show a good-faith effort to develop your own warhead and launch system, and I'll take you seriously. Weak signals RC and an M-200, even. Until then, you're doing the Norks' work for them, and loving it. Absent dynamic GIS updates, they can't hit the broad side of California. There are still Neds who see this as a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Staghounds, a little looking at the picture on cnn and some google maps meandering makes me believe that this would be the Broughton on the edge of Milton Keynes. That help you?

On the larger story ... *sigh* ... there are villages and villages.

What I think of as a village can be found out in the arse end of nowhere. Old, sagging houses, accessible only through lanes barely wide enough to fit the ubiquitous Defenders, or by stumbling down the wrong footpath. Only technically called a village because it has a church, and hopefully a pub. They will know you're not one of them, and they will wonder what you're doing there. These are people who know which end of a pitchfork is which, and what to do with a worn out tyre and a can of petrol if somebody dares put a speed camera on the nearest major road. The streetview van wouldn't go anywhere near. They've probably never seen CCTV.

Broughton is not one of these villages.

Broughton is probably advertised in the estate agent's patter as having "excellent transport links". It's on the edge of Milton Keynes, and practically has its own junction on the M1, for crying out loud. The residents probably work in anywhere from London to Birmingham, or even Milton Keynes itself. It'll be an expensive dormitory, with houses gradually extended into sprawling monstrosities. You probably can't buy a house for less than £1e6. That accessibility is probably why they don't wish the less affluent and legally flexible of Milton Keynes scouting out the convenient local honeypot without having to be seen to do so.

They probably don't give a damn about CCTV in principle, as long as it isn't taking pictures of all their expensive homes. Hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, bit heavy on the 'probably' there. Apologies, I'll aim for more variety next time.

Anonymous said...

You know, they didn't actually have pitchforks. They called the police, like the post-modern solid burghers anon above describes them to be. While we're doint the "probables," most of them probably submitted meekly once the legalities of the situation were made clear. Had it been the property tax-assessor's car and camera, and had tyres and petrol actually come into play, we Tamarites would have looked at things in a whole different, flickering and fuming, light.