Google Street View Offers a Blur Option — But Should You Use It?

After major data breaches reported by big companies and sophisticated scams, it’s not uncommon for people to worry that their personal information is online.

But what about the widely used Google feature that allows strangers from all over the world to literally see your own home just by typing in an address?

Personal locations in the digital age are becoming another online avenue for criminals to target their victims: The men who went to jail for Kim Kardashian’s robbery in 2016 told VICE that they used social media images and locations to target influencers and attacking celebrities.

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And it’s believed a geotagged social media post may have led gunmen to rapper PnB Rock, who died after being shot dead at a restaurant in September.

Google’s Street View, a feature that allows users to navigate through 360-degree street-level imagery of various cities around the world, had also previously come under criticism over privacy concerns.

The tech giant paid just $1 to an American couple after they sued the company in 2008 for trespassing and posting pictures of their home on Street View.

In 2010, Google announced that a quarter of a million Germans had asked for their homes to be redacted in Street View.

Google Street View offers users the option to blur their houses. Credit: delivered

University of South Australia cybersecurity expert Professor Jill Slay said she was one of the people who looked at Google Street View when it first launched in 2007.

But now, she said, most people would probably be indifferent to online pictures of their homes because so much of their lives are already public.

“Personally, I have no problem with the details of my own house being online or my own car being outside,” she said.

However, she said there would be some instances where it would be necessary to hide someone’s identity on Streetview.

“If you were on the extreme end of domestic violence or crime … those are the extreme cases where you wouldn’t want that.”

Users can request that their face, driver’s license or home be blurred in Google Street View. Credit: 7NEWS

Google’s policy states that images posted to Street View were not real-time and would be posted months to years after they were taken.

It said on its website it had protected identities by blurring faces and license plates before posting it on Street View.

Slay said Street View can also be used positively, such as helping law enforcement make arrests.

“I’m sure before they arrest anyone, they find out what’s in the house, they look at what’s behind the back,” she said.

How to blur a face, property or license plate in Google Street View

For those who are still interested in defacing their property, or who have found unwanted images of themselves online, Google offers the option to report the image.

To generate a report, enter the address on Google Maps, use the yellow people icon to enter street view mode.

Once the property is visible, click “Report a problem” by clicking on the three dots in the top left corner of the screen.

The website then provides an option to report and submit an issue and request redacting.

An American living in New Zealand discovers a “confusing” word while browsing a Kmart shop.

A US woman living in New Zealand discovers a ‘confusing’ word during a Kmart shop. Google Street View Offers a Blur Option — But Should You Use It?

James Brien

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