Christian Heilmann

Would opt-in or opt-out for Google Streetview be a better solution?

Saturday, August 14th, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Seems like the whole of Europe is currently up in arms against Google streetview showing their houses (let’s not even start with the sniffed wireless points and their data) and as friends in Google tell me there are queues in the Google Germany office where people request their houses to be removed.

Should Google Streetview be opt-in? by photo

The reason is privacy and people are worried about security. As my mom put it “Thieves only need to use that Streetview thing and see where there are nice houses to steal things” to which I replied that they could also use a technology like a bicycle or a car to do the same thing and they wouldn’t have to go far to steal things.

Now, today a friend of mine Christian Bräunlich had a damn good idea and put it on a mailing list:

Bestimmte Leute wollen ja ihre Haeuser nicht im Streetview haben. Mein
Vorschlag zur Loesung: es wird ein spezieller 2D-Barcode definiert. Jeder kann
sich den ausdrucken und über die Tür kleben. Dieses Haus wird dann verpixelt.
Vorteil: geringer Aufwand, erprobte Technik: das hat schon vor 6000 Jahren
funktioniert. Häuser können automatisiert verpixelt werden. Den Barcode sieht
man kaum, man könnte ja verschiedene je nach Hausfarbe, definieren.
Ich denke ja nicht, dass alle fristgerecht ihre Anträge einreichen koennen zur
Entfernung, und ausserdem bindet das doch viel Manpower bei Google.

In English:

Some people aren’t happy about seeing their houses in Streetview. Here’s my proposal for a solution: you define a 2D barcode that people can print out and display on their house. Houses with a bar code don’t added to Streetview. The benefits are: this is simple to achieve, the technique is old and already proven (6000 years ago, really). You can hardly see the barcode and you could offer several different ones according to the colour of the house. I don’t think that people will be able to send in their requests to be removed from Streetview in time and the overhead in manpower at Google to respond to removal requests is another problem.

This is the opt-out idea. You could also turn that around and make it an opt-in. If you want to have your house in – display a barcode.

The only problem I can see with this is when you have houses with several tenants. The other benefit of this is that Google could offer these barcodes and send them by mail. They could also create a generator that would allow for example shops to also add their names and product offers in the barcode data and thus enhance the Streetview information even further. What do you think?

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