Everything is revealed to Google Street View

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If you are in the habit mowing the lawn in your underwear early on Saturday mornings, you should probably go by Google Street View and punch in your address. To get there in the first place, just type "street view" into Google.

You won't be able to remove any compromising photographs you find there, but at least you can prepare your family for the shock.

Google Street View provides 360-degree panoramic views of major U.S. cities. Or rather, it used to be only major U.S. cities. Now they have expanded the project, providing views of places such as Augusta, Aiken, Evans and Martinez.

It's cool, but there are some security concerns.

Homeland Security has already raised concerns about Google photographing sensitive areas in Washington, D.C., and the Pentagon made them remove footage taken from military bases.

A couple in Pittsburgh tried to sue Google for invasion of privacy, claiming that a public photograph had actually diminished the value of their home.

Privacy advocates have objected to Google Street View, pointing to views that show men leaving strip clubs, sunbathers in bikinis, parents hitting their children, or men picking up prostitutes.

Google has applied automatic face-blurring technology to all photographs.

Of course, the innocent, upright citizens have nothing to fear from Google Street View. But what about the rest of us?

Seeing your house (or yourself) on Google might seem cool at first, provided you are photographed in a place you are supposed to be, doing stuff you are supposed to do.

Technology is testing the boundaries of privacy law, forcing us to challenge our definitions of acceptable.

No one objected to being filmed in a public place if the odds were one in a hundred and the result was 30 seconds on the evening news. But what happens when those odds are 100 percent and the result is a photograph that can be accessed by anyone who knows your address?

Bloggers like to use the term "open source life" -- an extreme kind of self-publication that turns their lives into an open book. The Internet allows people to write public diaries, broadcast personal video, share an updated stream of thought via text messages, and publish their daily movements with GPS. But all these actions start with a choice. A blogger may regret sharing the intimate details of his life, but it all starts with a choice.

What about the husband caught leaving a porn theater or the deacon caught in the parking lot of a strip club? These men didn't choose an open source life, they had it forced on them by an indiscriminate bit of technology.

This is the price we pay for new technology. We're so excited about what we can do, we're not stopping to ask if we should be doing some of those things.


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