MP angered by Street View ‘invasion’

By Ed O’Mara |

CITY MP Stewart Jackson has accused “creepy” global internet giant Google of an unacceptable invasion of privacy after its Street View cameras arrived in the city.
The US company is in the process of photographing every corner of major cities and towns across Britain for its latest online street mapping application, and this week it was back in Peterborough.

Google Street View, which is similar to Google Maps, but features real street-level images, has attracted controversy since its UK launch in March, with many complaining it breaches people’s rights to privacy if they happen to be captured in the photograph.

Conservative MP Mr Jackson said he was “troubled” at the thought of people’s homes, gardens and property being recorded without permission.

He said: “There is already too much of a Big Brother culture in this country, and I think it is an unacceptable intrusion into people’s privacy when you can go online and potentially be looking into someone’s living room or back garden.

“There must be some private places left in the world and I just find the whole Google mapping thing a bit creepy and slightly 1984.”

The Google camera car — an ordinary hatchback with a huge camera strapped to the top — has been in Peterborough on and off for the past three weeks, and was spotted in the Millfield area on Thursday before The ET caught up with it in Woodston and Orton Longueville yesterday.

Driver John Barrell said he could not understand the controversy being whipped up by Street View, but admitted he had received some “funny looks” while driving through the streets.

The company will not reveal when the Peterborough pictures will go online, but says issues of privacy are taken “enormously seriously”.

Spokeswoman Laura Scott said: “Where faces are identifiable, we use facial recognition software which automatically blurs them out, and the same happens with car registration plates.

“If anyone is uncomfortable about appearing on Street View or having their home or property on there, they can ask to have an image removed, and we will take it off.”

Veteran city councillor Charles Swift said he had not heard of the latest development in mapping technology, but said it gave him cause for concern.

He said: “We seem to be going from one extreme to the other. Soon we shan’t be able to go to the toilet without someone following us there.”