Google Street View gets up close and personal with everyone and everything.
A little too close for some. Vehicles with roof-mounted cameras drive everywhere, filming roads, buildings, and houses. But that means that your house is online, and sometimes, that can lead to problems.
“That window just so happens to peek into your home, as well,” Mashable reports. “What that peek reveals may be more than you’ve bargained for — think views into bedroom windows, potential fodder for stalkers, and more.”
For instance, singer Billie Eilish’s was hit by obsessed “stalkers” showing up at her home in Los Angeles, leaving her “traumatized,” The Sun reported.
She was “granted a restraining order last week against a man who allegedly showed up at the property seven times and refused to leave, according to court documents.”
“The Grammy Award winner is believed to have requested Google to obscure it on their 3D mapping service, which allows internet users to view street-level photographs,” wrote the U.K. paper. “Billie joins a host of stars who have had their homes wiped from the search engine, including Sir Paul McCartney, Lily Allen and Jimmy Page, amid fears over stalkers and the possibility of being burglarized.”
And if Billie can do it, so can you. The entire process, says Mashable, “is surprisingly easy.”
Here’s what you do, according to the Privacy Please section of the website:
1. Go to Google Maps and enter your home address
2. Enter into Street View mode by dragging the small yellow human-shaped icon, found in the bottom-right corner of the screen, onto the map in front of your house
3. With your house in view, click “Report a problem” in the bottom-right corner of the screen
4. Center the red box on your home, and select “My home” in the “Request blurring” field
The Sun reported that Google will not completely remove an image, but anyone can ask for a picture to be blurred to protect their anonymity.
A spokesman told The Sun: “If a person sees that their face or license plate requires additional blurring, or if they would like us to blur their entire house, car, or body, they can submit a request using the ‘Report a problem’ tool.
“We have developed cutting-edge face and license plate blurring technology that is designed to blur identifiable faces and license plates within Google-contributed imagery in Street View,” the spokesman said. “To ensure the effectiveness of our measures to validate public requests for blurring, we do not publish details.”
In 2008, the entire town of North Oaks, Minnesota, threatened to take legal action against Google for trespassing. While you can still zoom in on houses in the community, northeast of Minneapolis, Google has deactivated the Street View function.
“In 2009, the lobbying organization Privacy International filed a formal complaint to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) alleging that Google failed to properly de-identify the people it captured,” Mashable reported, citing a BBC report at the time noted, that type of failure could have serious repercussions.