Sunday, 17 August 2008

Google is Creepy, or why we should be afraid of Google Streetview

Why we should be afraid of Google Streetview 11 August 2008, 2:30 PM (APCmag online)

by Richard Chirgwin

OPINION | Google's Streetview, just launched in Australia and Japan, is creeping a lot of people out. And it should. Something's just not right.

Away from the centre of the debate, out among people who aren't IT
experts, the adjective I've heard associated most often with StreetView
is “creepy” (and it tells you just how far Google has wandered from its
users – what company would not be terrified to be thought of in such

This article in its entirety generated a lot of comments, most from within the IT industry, and many poo pooing the idea that Joe Sixpack has anything to worry about from Google privacy wise, or that Google has anything to worry about from Joe Sixpacks' reaction to this new service.

Well, I work in the IT Industry, and I have to agree with Richard.

It doesn't matter what the technorati and IT mavens believe or think, it's what Joe Sixpack believes and thinks.

And if Joe Sixpack believes and thinks that Google Streetview is "creepy" and "something's not right", then you will begin to see Joe Sixpack thinking; "What else is Google doing or capable of doing, which will invade my privacy even more?"

"I won't use Google search anymore, I don't want to use Google maps anymore, I'm not using gmail anymore. I won't use other Google services, and I will not google anymore.

I'll find alternative providers who don't seem to be so indifferent to my fears."

It maybe that Google StreetView becomes the line in the sand in the personal vs public privacy* debate.

And in a time when entertainment media transforms "Who Dares Wins" into "The Fear Factor", the media generally, and politicians too, find it profitable to ramp up the aggro and feed on fear.

In times like these, if Google ignores the privacy fears of users or collateral targets, and doesn't quickly adapt to these concerns, then in my opinion, it's a poor business decision which will ultimately pave the way for new players.

Don't believe me? Lycos ... Alta Vista ... Infoseek ... Excite, anyone?

[Update 18/08/08: Check out Machinist over at for another OP ed. on Google Streetview creepiness.]

*Oooh, public privacy; now there's an oxymoron begging further wordage! ;-)

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