Who ever thought of privacy policies on maps?

Or, as Charles Bandes, a local photog questions:

Who watches the watchmen?

He’s walking down the street with his camera, he spots a car driving slowly along – with a wide-angle multi-camera rig on the roof, filming everything as it drives on.  Ah-ha!  Modern mapping technology has come so far, that not only can we get a satellite picture of you in your backyard (admittedly still grainy for the civillian uses), but we also have immersive photo maps of your front yard from drive-by internet companies.  Where can you go for privacy these days?

The interesting thing I found was in the comments to the posting – Kasia claims it was her in the car, and she’s not working for Google, but another immersive photo mapping vendor called EveryScape.com!  I suppose it’s a fairly obvious idea, and technology has been ready for this kind of image processing for a while now.  The key was always the business model, and the logistics of having humans (robot cars not being legal in most populated areas yet) actually drive around everywhere to capture the data close-up.

What’s my point?  Several fold:

  • Where’s the privacy policy?  Sure, legally public streets and all that, but still, they’re running a business that relies on eyeballs on their site; how do they update rights management and complaints processing?
  • Who the heck ever thought of a privacy policy on a map?  (Actually, I’m sure some people have besides the gov’t's blurring of satellite data, but still.)
  • Excellent post title, Charles, although I admit I haven’t read that graphic novel in far too long.

Now for some self-promotion (or self-delusion): let’s start a new meme.  EveryScape – howabout EveryScrape?  Makes sense to most geeks: you’re screen-scraping my neighborhood, dude!  CityScrape?  All of the other obvious spelling mistakes like EvryScape?  Who’s going to be the first to steal some of these other great domain names to make some parasitic profit off of this newcomer? 
Please tell me it’s going to be someone fun, who does a worthwhile parody site and/or community driven site, and not one of those evil domain master owners who just pump their AdSense income from their automated spelling-mistake-catching domain registry tools.  Ugh.

3 thoughts on “Who ever thought of privacy policies on maps?

  1. Just a uber-geek correction. While of course “Who Watches the Watchmen” could be a reference to the excellent Alan Moore graphic novel, it originated with the Roman poet Juvenal, who asked “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” in his “Satires 6″ from the 1st or 2nd century.

    Not that it’s at all relevant to map privacy (which I must say I can’t get too worked up about- a phone book seems to give our more dangerous information) but when you have useless information, you just have to share. ;)

  2. From: http://www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?content_id=254

    Site talked about: http://www.californiacoastline.org
    ….
    That’s of little interest to the anti-regulatory organisation the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), however. The PLF is more concerned about how Adelman’s website will impact upon property owners. Adelman says: ‘It’s upset that my photographs are affecting people’s privacy. It says it’s unfair that these pictures allow their violations to be discovered. Interesting. What it’s really saying is that the purpose of privacy is to allow people to be lawbreakers.’ I’m a celebrity, get out of here When it comes to privacy on the California coast, no one can compete with outspoken eco-diva Barbara Streisand. The Hollywood star recently sued Adelman for $10m, claiming invasion of privacy after his website displayed a photo of her bluff-top Malibu estate. Adelman claimed free speech, saying that displaying the image was necessary if the public was to have access to a complete record of the coast. So why did the self-proclaimed environmentalist Streisand target Adelman, especially as photos of and driving directions to her house are posted elsewhere on the web? Not only has her suit caused thousands of otherwise uninterested web surfers to ogle her house, it’s also brought conservatives and progressives into a mocking chorus of her ecological preachings. The judge in the case ruled in Adelman’s favour, ordering Streisand to cover his more than $100,000 legal fees. At the time Adelman said: ‘This decision sends a message to all environmental activists that the court will not tolerate threats of intimidation from a celebrity who believes that her personal interests are more important than the public’s constitutional right to free speech.’ The future: the past Adelman is now in the process of re-photographing the California coast. He’s more excited, however, about a University of California professor’s recent discovery of shoe boxes filled with thousands of slides of the coast taken between 1972 and 1979. When Adelman gets them up on his website later this year, environmentalists will have an even clearer understanding of the impact of developers on California. More importantly, Adelman hopes his efforts will inspire others around the globe to engage in similar endeavours. We may not all be able to afford a helicopter, but almost anyone can get hold of a camera and begin documenting what’s left and what’s lost in our own neighbourhoods.

What do you think?