Germany's love-hate relationship with Google Street View

The Christian Science Monitor


Allow Google to take a picture of your house. Or prepare to be wiped off the face of the map, indefinitely.

That's the option the California company is presenting to Germans as it prepares to launch its Street View interactive mapping program in November for the European nation's 20 biggest cities.

Street View's opt-out option, says Paul Schwartz of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology in California, highlights how Web users can snoop without being snooped on.

“The Golden Rule is not enforced or enforceable,” he says. “Google is not saying that since you’ve opted out, you can’t use [Street View] forever more. It allows people to become free riders.”

German privacy law is more nuanced from American privacy law, continues Professor Schwartz. In the United States, what happens in the public is not private. Such is not the necessarily case in Germany, he says, pointing to the 2004 case "von Hannover v Germany" in the European Court of Human Rights. It ruled that photos of Princess Caroline of Hanover, the daughter of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco, were private even though she was a public figure in a public place.