This is interesting ...
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has written to Google, asking for comments on the proposition that Google Street View may violate Canadian privacy laws.
Letter to Mr. David C. Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, Google, regarding 3D online mapping technology
Our Office considers images of individuals that are sufficiently clear to allow an individual to be identified to be personal information within the meaning of PIPEDA. The images contained in Immersive Media’s GeoImmersive Database appear to have been collected largely without the consent and knowledge of the individuals who appear in the images. These images now appear in your company’s Street View application. I understand that there is a function within Street View which allows viewers to request that certain images be removed. This is only a partial solution, however, given that individuals may not be aware that images relating to them are on Street View. As well, by the time individuals become aware that images relating to them are contained in Street View, their privacy rights may already have been affected.
I am concerned that, if the Street View application were deployed in Canada, it might not comply with our federal privacy legislation. In particular, it does not appear to meet the basic requirements of knowledge, consent, and limited collection and use as set out in the legislation. I would appreciate your response to the issues that I have raised as soon as possible, given the importance of these questions to the privacy rights of Canadians. Please contact me if you have any questions.
There's been loads of coverage of this issue in the mainstream media. See:
- Google map could break privacy law - washingtonpost.com
- Google Street View may violate Canada's privacy law: Privacy minister makes preemptive strike since app not yet offered there - I see the Commissioner has been promoted to Privacy Minister.
- Canada.com: Google streetscapes spark privacy concerns
- New York Post: CANADA SHY ABOUT GOOGLE MAP CAMS
- CBC.Ca: Google street view may be illegal: Canada