A Street View On Canadian Privacy

September 14, 2007

Canada’s privacy commissioner is concerned about Google Street View.

A number of websites carry satellite images or low-resolution photographs and video.

Stoddart doesn’t have a problem with those. However, she warned that high-resolution pictures such as those available on Street View could contravene the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2004.

“Our Office considers images of individuals that are sufficiently clear to allow an individual to be identified to be personal information within the meaning of PIPEDA,” Stoddart writes.

Of particular concern to Stoddart is that the images on Street View appear to have been collected largely without the consent of the people in them. Street View does allow viewers to request their images be removed. However, by then, Stoddart says, it’s too late.

Oh brother. Am I missing something? The PIPEDA is about the collection of “personal information” not about unintentionally including an individual in an image of a streetscape. If this is the most pressing privacy issue in Canada then we are indeed a privileged country.