How Google put Bill’s grief on show

Down and out ... Bill pictured on Google's Street View mapping tool.Down and out … Bill pictured on Google’s Street View mapping tool.

Losing his best friend in a freak boating accident was bad enough.

– Picture pulled
– Renewed privacy concerns
– Street View monitored

But Google’s Street View has made a bad situation worse for Bill, from Victoria.

Bill – not his real name – had been drowning his sorrows over the weekend after the Friday funeral of his friend and felt worse for wear when a taxi dropped him off at his mother’s home early on Monday February 4.

Feeling ill, he lay on the grass, and fell asleep.

The next thing he knew was being woken up by police in the morning.

He wasn’t aware that Google’s camera-equipped car had driven by earlier and snapped his picture.

Last week when Google launched its Street View tool for Google Maps, that picture was on display for anyone with an internet connection to see. It has since been taken down after it was flagged by users.

“I’m not too happy about it – I mean, I shouldn’t have been there in the state that I was in but I wasn’t really thinking there would be someone driving past with a video camera on the roof filming me either,” Bill, who spends around 10 months of the year fishing off Darwin, said via satellite phone.

The issue highlights some of the concerns voiced by privacy activists, who say that while Street View is a great tool for armchair explorers, people are not given the choice of whether they or their houses appear on the site.

A form inside the “Street View Help” page allows people to report images they see as inappropriate or invasive, but the Australian Privacy Foundation said the form is not visible enough and Google was too slow to remove images reported by users.

Street View has already exposed a cheating spouse, uncovered a lying neighbour and snapped a man sleeping on the job.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week, “street view” was entered into Google’s search engine more times than “olympics”, according to Google’s Insight tool.

Despite Google’s commitment to blur faces and number plates, people can still be identified by location and their appearance.

The weekend before Bill was snapped by the Street View cameras, his best mate was killed when his 5.4 metre fibreglass runabout smashed into a compass pylon in waters at Lakes Entrance, Victoria, around 1am.

Srinivas Katam

Do you need help growing your business? Srinivas Katam is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Consultant with over 200 successful SEO and Social Media client engagements completed. I’ve worked with brands across the world as a digital marketing consultant to deliver revenue growth from content-focused inbound marketing campaigns. He is an Innovative Marketer who specializes in digital marketing, specifically in social media, SEO and online strategy.

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