Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

Summary: If you're in Germany, you can preemptively stop Google from releasing your home's picture.

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If you're in Germany, you have one particular Google privilege that the rest of us don't: you can opt your house out of Google Street View before it even shows up.

Apparently, the Germans aren't particularly thrilled with Google Street View, the Internet giant's service that lets you see street view images of roads almost anywhere in the world.

Personally, I think Street View is almost science fiction, it's so amazing. Recently, my wife had to go to an event in an unfamiliar city and wasn't sure where she'd be driving to. We were able to scope out the entire trip using Street View, down to exactly what buildings looked like, so she'd know landmarks as she made her way to the event.

Aside: Google, Street View needs a little more juice. It'd be nice to set a destination and a start location and have Street View just automatically show you a slide show of the entire trip, without having to click the mouse a bajillion times.

Anyway, back to our story. It turns out that Google plans to roll out Street View throughout 20 German cities over the next year and gave German citizens the chance to opt-out their homes prior to the roll-out.

According to an article in Der Spiegel (which means "The Mirror" and was actually started by the British while occupying Germany), several hundred thousand German citizens have chosen to opt-out of the Street View service.

I was curious about whether Germany got any special Google privileges the rest of us are denied, so I went to the source and asked Google directly. Here's what I was told:

Both Americans and Germans can use our easy-to-use reporting tool to request that images of their house be removed from Street View. They can simply click on "Report a problem" on the bottom left-hand side of the Street View image, complete the form and click "Submit."

However, we're enabling people in Germany to request the blurring of their house in advance of the imagery becoming available online. Of course people will still be able to use the "Report a problem" button directly in the Street View image once the product is launched, just as they can everywhere else the product is available.

So there you go. If you're in Germany, you can preemptively stop Google from releasing your home's picture. If you're in the U.S. (or weren't paying attention that day in class in Germany), you can easily ask Google to block your home.

Update: I was just contacted by "a Google spokesperson," who requested I add the following note:

We’re not able to give you an exact figure for the number of letters we have received because that isn’t yet clear. For example, some of the letters are duplicates, others relate to other products and some are spam. We encourage those who don’t want their houses to appear on Street View to use the tool, and once we know what the total figure is we’ll publish it.

Here's a quick tutorial on how to do that:

What do you think? Did you opt your home out of Google Street View?

Topics: Software, Browser, CXO, Data Centers, Enterprise Software, Google, Hardware

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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18 comments
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  • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

    Can the Germans also stop everybody from walking past your house on the sidewalk and just, you know, looking at it? Or have they developed Total Haus Unsichtbarkeit?
    Vesicant
    • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

      @Vesicant THU, I am ROTFL. But a real German would put it in one word, like Totalhausunsichtbarkeit. :-) This kind of privacy just gives you a false sense of security. A good oldschool burgler will just sit in a car for a few days and shoot hires fotos... or James Bond. :-)
      BiroTom
    • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

      @Vesicant: Is there an option to 'Like' your reply? I would like to super-like it! :) That's exactly what I was thinking when I read the headline of this post. Like all of the commenters here, I, too, find the street-view invaluable, especially when I am considering navigating through unfamiliar areas in unknown cities. Germans are reading too much Harry Potter, methinks, and they want a house like 12 Grimmauld Place!!
      suirauqa
  • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

    That's so stupid. Like the above poster said, anyone can walk by your house and see it. This 'opt out' adds absolutely no privacy protection.
    Droid101
    • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

      @Droid101 You're forgetting a few things. If you have installed security measures, let's say some cameras around your house, then anyone walking by your house is now 'visible'. Try that with Google Streetview, have someone scope out your house from remote, you don't know who's watching ! Provided that the picture of your house in streetview can be somewhat outdated, still it gives a tool to scope out places.

      Perhaps Google should start recording who is scoping out places with streetview. Then if something happens in a place, Google could provide authorities with evidence that certain people had an interest in looking at that place !
      TxM2xTx
  • I don't care about Germany OR blocking my house picture!

    I find the pictures nearly invaluable anytime I'm travelling or am going to advise someone travelling to me or some other location. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Google's pics are worth even more for the traveler.
    There is one time when I would accept, willingly, a ban on showing a building in good detail, and that would be governmnt related; those people's homes, any location of any strategic value, things like that. I don't know why; just because I think our gvt should have the last word on their own buildings.

    I can already see the outline views of about any address and a few times that was handy. But my son's and daughters homes, which I can not see because my disability precludes my flying there, and I'd really like it if there was a street view of them. The list of possible uses of street pics etc. is long and humongous. I could fill a book with them if not careful, but I'll resist and let this end rght here.

    BTW, Google isn't the only source for this kind of thing: I finally got views of my kids' homes, including inside views, just by going to their realtors. Almost all of them these days let you tour the outside and inside of houses they have and had for sale recently. Oope! I said I was done! Bye~
    twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • Germany already has Street View...

    Germany already has Street View:

    http://www.sightwalk.de

    I don't remember hearing about banning sightwalk!

    Maybe Germans are afraid of Google Street View mishaps like these:

    http://www.streetviewfunny.com
    Mapper99
    • Great point -- competitors

      Great point. Even if Google Street View and whatever MS/Yahoo eventually puts out are somehow limited, the fact is that there will always be "micro" competitors--perhaps limited to a single city--that the majority of people won't know about. You can't print Bing's bird-eye views ...

      ... well, that is unless you do PrintScreen, save it to a graphics program (The GIMP is free ...), increase the resolution from the default screen resolution to a decent print resolution (e.g., change 96 dpi to 300), and [b][i]then[/i][/b] print it. ... But who in the world would ever think to do [b][i]that[/i][/b]??? It takes all of 3 minutes.
      Rick_R
      • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

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        densk
  • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

    Frankly, I don't care if my house is shown (it is) in Google Street View, or not. You might find this weird but I actually like to take these street view virtual trips once in a while, especially to locations in England. But I do wish these photos were updated once in a while... I've redone the landscaping and repainted the house... the old photos certainly did no justice to the way the house shows now.
    Is there a way to get Google to do another drive-by to update these photos?
    jedikitty@...
    • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

      @jedikitty@... I believe it's possible that you upload photos of your house (Stored in Picasa if I'm not mistaken), that you can actually click on a pinpoint and it shows the pics of that place.
      TxM2xTx
      • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

        @TxM2xTx I believe you are correct. The photos (which users upload) can be viewed via Google Maps "More" dropdown, if Photos are checkmarked but it does not look like they replace the ones for Street View that the Google camera car took. Oh well, not like I'm famous for them to make any effort in that regard :)
        jedikitty@...
      • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

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        densk
      • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

        @TxM2xTx This can't succeed as a matter of fact, <a href="http://www.nonsoloescort.com">escort milano</a> that is exactly what I believe.
        densk
    • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

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      Angie25
  • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

    Why should I care that Germans can? I don't live there. I don't care if they get a pic of my house; it'd make a lot of things easier for me.
    twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

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    that is what I suppose.
    densk
    • RE: Can you opt your house out of Google Street View in advance? Germans can.

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      Angie25