Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not being evil

Google famously has a motto, "Don't be evil" yet the company's Street View service has been kicking up a bit of controversy. The service has a car equipped with cameras driving the public streets preparing Internet information so that online users can use Google Maps to look at a 360 view of a location without visiting for real.

I can pretty much understand why the Pentagon should ban Google from the area around US military bases.

But recently UK householders have blocked the Google vehicle, believing that the street view makes crime more likely. Today we get reports that the data protection authority in Greece is also deciding whether to allow the photography in their country.

What am I missing? Why is this an issue when Google indexes phone book entries and so much other information? Why is Street View more dangerous than allowing Gmail to store, index and serve advertisements tailored to the context of emails?