Google’s Street View recently hit the UK streets, and an angry throng of Brits has hit back. It happened in the wealthy village of Broughton: Seeing the Street View car driving through town, residents formed a human chain to stop the car and hassled the driver until he turned around and left.
The Times reports that the residents were already on alert because of three burglaries in the last six weeks. Said Paul Jacobs, the first person to flag down the car: “If our houses are plastered all over Google it’s an invitation for more criminals to strike. I was determined to make a stand, so I called the police.”
Street View is off to a rough start in the UK. Officials were upset a couple weeks ago about a photo of a naked child caught by Google’s cameras. The watchdog group Privacy International filed a complaint with the UK government just days after Street View launched there.
And if you’ve been reading Search Engine Land for any length of time, you know the UK isn’t the first place Google Street View has encountered problems. Angry mobs notwithstanding, academics and attorneys in Japan are trying to block Street View. Canadian officials expressed concerns early on that it might violate privacy laws there. And a German town planned to make Google apply for a permit to drive its Street View cars through town, and then deny the permit application.
Meanwhile, Google tells the British press that their driver wasn’t breaking any laws by driving into Broughton, and that residents can request to have pictures of their homes removed … but only if they let the car through in the first place.