Crafty cigarette exposed by Google: PI swings into action

Opinion by pfisher

Self-appointed guardians of individual privacy and freedom, Privacy International (PI) has made a formal complaint to the ICO according to the BBC

Self-appointed guardians of individual privacy and freedom, Privacy International (PI) has made a formal complaint to the ICO according to the BBC

This the same outfit mentioned in an earlier post. I promise this will be my last comment on this whole Street View issue but I wanted to share some of the complaints that PI has apparently received from members of the public and which form the basis of the complaint to the, undoubtedly delighted to have more work on his hands, Information Commissioner. 

Here they are:
To establish the impact that disclosure through Street View has had on individuals, it is important that we set out a selection of the complaints that we have received:

  • A man (whose face was partially blurred) was recognized by his partner having a cigarette outside his place of work. This has caused distress and dysfunction in the relationship as the man in question had not disclosed to his partner that he enjoyed the occasional cigarette.

  • A fifteen year-old boy was caught on Street View carrying a skateboard, which his parents had expressly forbade him from using. The boy subsequently had a row with the parents and is now staying with friends.

  • A married man was captured speaking at close proximity with a female colleague. Because of nearby noisy road works he was forced to speak into her ear, but the image created the appearance of intimacy. This image created a tense argument between the married couple.

  • A woman who has for several years been moving house to avoid detection from a former violent partner complained to us that she felt extreme distress when Street View identified her outside her new home.

  • A man complained to us that when he looked up his own home on Street View every numberplate had been blurred other than that of his own car, which was parked directly outside his home. The complainant is now extremely concerned about security implications.

  • Two men working for a large organization were identified by work colleagues in a situation which gave the appearance that they were kissing each other. This was not the case, but the image - subsequently widely circulated throughout the organization - has caused great humiliation to them and their (female) partners.


  • A woman was captured leaning out of her loungeroom window in the company of a man. The woman's husband discovered the image and confronted his wife, demanding an explanation of her apparent "affair". It transpired that the man was a contractor, and the woman was discussing a quote for exterior painting work. The argument was swiftly resolved, but the couple is still extremely distressed about the situation.


  • Now, apart from the case of the woman escaping a violent partner most of these are laughable.  If this is the worst that PI can find then its complaint is likely to be given short shrift by the ICO.

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