Constitutional Law

Google Maps Make Life Less Private

It isn’t illegal. But an ambitious Google Inc. project to map metropolitan areas throughout the country is reducing the limited amount of privacy that used to apply, as a practical matter, on public streets.

“The law allows you to take a picture of anything you can see as long as you’re in a public place,” Kelli Sager, a Davis Wright Tremaine attorney, points out to the Los Angeles Times. However, people aren’t used to thinking that random photographers could be capturing their movements at any time and putting them up on the Internet for all the world to see, the newspaper notes.

“It is a visual reminder of how our private spaces are really shrinking,” says Pam Dixon, executive director of San Diego-based World Privacy Forum. “We’ve never had the expectation of privacy in public places, but it’s the technology that causes us to re-examine this. Computers have very long memories.”

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