Sunday, December 14, 2008

A New Level of Scary...

It's amazing what you can find out about people on the internet. There is no privacy anymore. None. It doesn't matter if you stay far far away from those scary computers -- there is no privacy.

I spent this evening trying to find information on a family, where all I knew was that there were two brothers who owned a furniture store in the 1930s, and I knew last name and city. That was it. And through some creative searching, I now know who they are, who their families were, and where they lived.

And when I plugged those addresses into Google Maps to see how far apart the two brothers lived, I discovered quite an astonishing thing. Street view. I clicked it, and by golly, no need to drive to the city to see what the houses look like, if indeed those houses are still there, because I can see them right there on my computer! And I can "drive" my mouse down the street and check out the whole neighborhood, or the whole city, for that matter!

I was appalled at the lack of privacy. I use Google Maps all the time and had never seen this come up before. I quickly plugged in my own address and was relieved to see that there was no streetview. I put in my parents', and lo and behold, there was. But it wasn't their house. I recognized the house, however, as one right down the road, and "drove" my mouse and sure enough, there was their house.

I found my sister's, and I found my brother's. I found my best friend's, and then I went crazy and started plugging in all sorts of people's addresses. They were ALL THERE.

(However, you can't assume they're all exactly the right house. Lots of houses I looked at were not the right house, but were close. You sometimes had to "drive" down the street...)

I am apparently the only fortunate person whose privacy has not been invaded to this degree. Yet.

I was really surprised because I entered some addresses that I know I've looked up in just the last couple of weeks, and they had streetview, and I swear I have never seen this before. So I did some investigation and learned that on December 9, extensive U.S. coverage was added to Google's streetview feature which before was only available for a few cities. Wow.

Is it just me, or is this positively frightening?


Maria said...

Street view hasn't made it to Denmark yet, but I've been browsing it a bit in NZ. Personally I don't find it scary, but then I don't live in the US. I might feel differently about it if I did.

Heidi said...

I have to say that I don't find it scary. Maybe I'm more ignorant or trusting, but I've used it before to help me find houses for kid's birthday parties and it's nice to see what the house actually looks like since google maps sometimes just gets me to the neighborhood but I'm stuck trying to find house numbers in the dark. And house numbers around here aren't always prominantly posted (including our own). I find it quite interesting actually.