In conjunction with its European launch, Google Street View will now be proactively blurring any images it captures that would reveal someones identity. Objects like faces and license plates will be obscured in the European version without the captured people having to complain first.
What I find interesting about this is that Google is “thinking” of doing the same in the US. To me it is ludicrous that Google would be putting photos of people’s identifying information on a public website without their consent in the first place. It shows why government regulation is sometimes required, companies cannot be trusted to chose correctly between other peoples rights and their own costs. Google was not necessarily being malicious in this, but parsing every image and blurring identifying information would be an expensive and time consuming job. Some middle manager had the option to get his project in earlier and cheaper and if he was not breaking any regulations or laws, why compromise his bonus.
Thankfully the EU is a lot more protective of its citizens than the US is and have laws against publishing identifying information without permission. I’ve talked about poor consumer protection in the US before. This is an example of why governments are needed to regulate markets.