The Office of the Privacy Commissioner is concerned that street level photography, as currently deployed in the United States, may not meet the basic requirements of Canadian privacy laws.
The Privacy Commissioner has written to Google and Immersive Media to seek further information and assurances that Canadians’ privacy rights will be safeguarded if their technology is deployed in Canada.
Although Google Street View hasn’t come to Canada yet, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has written expressing concern to Google and to Immersive Media Corp, a Calgary company whose large database of photos gathered with high resolution cameras affixed to cars, may provide the basis for Street View’s portrayal of Canadian citites. The anxiety, of course, is that in their eagerness for accuracy and detail, Street View’s photographs may also capture images of people who are recognizable, the publication of which might violate Canadian privacy laws.
It will be interesting to read the responses from Google and Immersive, because although being “captured” in these photographs might make people uncomfortable, it isn’t clear, at least to me, that their use by Street View would be in fact a violation of the various privacy laws in Canada, particularly since the images of any people would be entirely incidental to the commercial nature of the enterprise.