Some Japanese concerned about Google Street View

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    A few days have passed since Google launched its Street View service for several major Japanese cities, and complaints are beginning to appear. For many Japanese, the public availability of photographs showing their houses is cause for fear and worry, while others are concerned about the privacy people and car license plates that appear in Google’s images.

    Chris Salzberg of Global Voices Online has posted a translation of of an letter to Google by Japanese IT professional/blogger Osamu Higuchi. In the letter, Higuchi requests that Google remove images of residential roads from its Street View service because

    According to the morals of urban area residents in Japan, the assumption that “it is scenery [viewable] from public roads and therefore it must be public” is in fact incorrect. Quite the contrary, [these morals state that] “people walking along public roads must avert their glance from the living spaces right before their eyes”.

    In our way of living, you do not unilaterally, and in a machine-readable form, lay open people’s living spaces to the whole world

    Higuchi goes on to suggest that criminals will use Google Street View to plan crimes, and that having “one’s own living space exposed to the whole world without ever having been asked about it beforehand” amounts to an act of “evil.”

    A post at the Road to the Deep East about the case of a stalker being arrested attempting to enter the house of 15 year-old actress Shida Mirai also touches the possibility that Google Street View could be used to plan crimes (Google is also compared to Amazon, which had been blamed for failing to protect the privacy of users by not making wish lists private by default on its Japanese site):

    It’s still UNCERTAIN whether he used this service for real, but one thing for sure is the crazy person COULD see the outlook of her apartment via Street View just as others did after this incident.

    Google Street View is a very convenient service, especially, for the person who has no sense of direction like me. But in a small country like Japan, it can be a starter of serious crimes like this.

    At an invasion of privacy lawsuit in Pennsylvania, google explained that there is no complete privacy in modern society. But will google.com make excuse after tons of teenage idols are raped in Japan in this way?

    Just like Amazon.com’s case few month ago, this incident seems to me another case caused by the cultural difference between Japanese tradition and foreign company’s officiousness. I mean, Leave us alone!!

    Google has been rather quick in removing some images of people in embarrassing situations, but it is doubtful they will remove street views of residential neighborhoods.

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