Villagers send Google snapper packing

But for the villagers of Broughton in southern England, the roving eye of Google was one camera too far.

A gaggle of residents in the affluent hamlet formed a human chain to turn away a car shooting images for Google Street View, the popular service that allows Internet users to see high-quality photos of houses and streets around the world.

Broughton's tiny victory for people power is the latest sign of concern about the U.S. Internet juggernaut's collection of vast amounts of data, from satellite photos on Google Earth to the searches performed by Internet users and the shopping habits of e-mail users.

"I was upstairs when I spotted the camera car driving down the lane," villager Paul Jacobs told The Times of London newspaper. "My immediate reaction was anger: How dare anyone take a photograph of my home without my consent?"

Jacobs quickly rounded up his neighbors, who blocked the road and forced the car to retreat.

The local police force confirmed it had been called to the village Wednesday by "reports of a dispute between a crowd of people and a Google Street View contractor."

"They felt his presence was an intrusion of their privacy," Thames Valley Police said in a statement sent Friday to The Associated Press. "When police arrived at the scene, the car had moved on."

Street View debuted in the United States in 2007 and has since spread to countries including France, Italy, Spain, Australia and Japan. It launched in Britain last month, sparking a debate about freedom of information and the right to privacy.

Street View has sparked concern elsewhere as well. In the United States, Google removed images of shelters for battered women.

In the Netherlands, concerns have been raised about the safety of anyone trying to photograph Amsterdam's notorious Red Light district. So far, Google's images stop just outside the district.

In Italy, consumer groups have raised a variety of concerns and asked Google to put visual and sound warnings on the cars that take its Street View pictures.

"People feel sensitive about their local area, about their home, and digitization in great detail of those images threatens a great many people," said Simon Davies of London-based watchdog Privacy International.

For months, Google's Street View vehicle — a car with a pole-mounted revolving camera protruding from the top — has been roaming the streets of Britain, capturing 360-degree images of streets, and the people on them.

Since the service launched, millions of Britons have gone online to look at their own houses or landmarks like the Houses of Parliament. But some government buildings and the area around the prime minister's Downing Street home have been removed.

Google says the technology is legal, useful and non-intrusive. To preserve privacy, individuals' faces and car license plates are obscured by pixelation.

"All the information on Street View is the same as you would find on a property Web site or walking down the street yourself," said Google spokesman Anthony House.

But, he added, "it's a new technology and so I think it is understandable that people will be unhappy with it."

House said Google would remove any image on request, which can be done by clicking a link on the Street View Web site.

Google's British communications chief, Peter Barron, told the BBC that the company had received "a few hundred" such requests.

Pictures that have been taken down — after they were widely run in the press — include one of a man walking out of a sex shop and another of a worse-for-wear reveler throwing up on the sidewalk outside a London pub.

Apart from privacy concerns, some worry that Street View helps criminals scope out targets for burglary or car theft.

In Germany, officials in the northern town of Molfsee vowed last year to stop Google from photographing anywhere in town. Conservative council leader Reinhold Harwart was quoted in the local newspaper as saying letting in Street View would be "opening house and home to criminals."

That was also a worry for Broughton's villagers, concerned that burglars would target their large, comfortable houses.

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said there was "no evidence to suggest Google Street View is causing an increase in burglaries."

"However," she said, "we want to reassure residents we will be keeping a close eye on this."

Just what the villagers asked for: more surveillance.

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

C# Web Developer (C#, MS Dynamics CRM, SQL, SQl Server) London

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Oracle developer- (Oracle, PL/SQL, UNIX/LINUX) - Trade- London

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in prov...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering