Google Street View

As widely reported in Germany and abroad, it seems that a lot of vocal Germans hate the idea of Street View.

I must say I enjoy it – I like looking at places in the UK that I know, and that I don’t know.

It’s also been widely reported that some of the opponents of Street View have revealed more about themselves than had they done nothing – for example, there’s a photo of some of them outside their home! A picture can be seen here in a German-language NDR TV blog entry.

The first pro-Google account I remember was by Anatol Stefanowitsch on his Sprachblog. And there is a c’t Editorial too (also German – but I’m not sure if the content will remain at this link).

It’s been pointed out elsewhere that opponents of Street View are ignorant about what Google is doing and what is already done by other services. Germany had a minister of justice who didn’t know what a browser is, and the suggestions in recent years of protecting privacy on the internet have been worrying. Jeff Jarvis on BuzzMachine summarizes some of the issues.

Jarvis at one and the same time asks ‘What makes Germans go bonkers about Street View?’ and yet quotes several Germans who don’t. Our problem is some of the media and some of the politicians and how they define ‘Germany’ and ‘the USA’. It is a very fruitful row to hoe if one looks at media clichés about a country.

Yesterday, Jeff Jarvis tweeted some amusement at the German word Verpixelungsrecht (thanks to the ever mysterious Ed of Blawg Review), which probably looks odd to people who don’t know that German makes portmanteau words. Verpixeln is the normal German word for pixelate.

Amazing (new) German word in its privacy mania: Verpixelungsrecht: The right to be pixelated? http://bit.ly/d8vbPX

For genuinely odd German words, see Wortistik (a taz blog).

LATER NOTE: so much for my scorn – Wortistik has now posted an entry on Verpixelungsrecht as a snappier term for das Recht auf informationelle Selbstbestimmung, usually translated by me as the right to informational self-determination.

3 thoughts on “Google Street View

  1. I have noticed a puzzling tendency of some of my German friends, colleagues and acquaintances to go berserk at all things Google; recently I found that one blog I like to read has banned the use of Google Chrome to view it. Given all the routine intrusions that they otherwise accept in their lives, and the spying incidents in many of the major corporations, I often fail to understand the point of their concern.

    • What I imagine is that they have an understandable suspicion of Big Brother, perhaps a national tendency, combined with ignorance. I’m pretty ignorant myself, but if I saw the Street View car, I would probably pose and smile. Presumably these protesters don’t condone employers’ spying!

  2. You gotta fight for your right to Verpixeln.

    I’m often amused about the reports of “looking right into your living room” or how criminals “Ihr Haus in alle Ruhe (oder in jeden Detail) erkunden”. Yeah, right, especialy for those living in flats of stories many.

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