Dress Down Friday

Save Our Souls!

Here’s something cool. It is a Google service called “Street View” which – as the name suggests – allows you to look at the view you’d get were you standing on the street, in a number of major American cities.

Here is the street view of my old High School in Minnesota. A top place. The Alma Mater of Al Franken, as it happens.

The good news it that this service is coming to the United Kingdom soon. The cars are already on the street, and the cities are being photographed.

Unfortunately a pressure group called “Privacy International” is opposed to putting photographs of public scenes – ones that you could have viewed yourself by standing in the street in question at the time the photograph was taken – on the internet. They have complained to the Information Commissioner, and are trying to get the service blocked.

Simon Davis, the spokesman for the group told the BBC:

“We believe that a person’s soul resides in his image. If you take a photograph of a person, you have stolen their soul. They will never enter paradise, and will spend all eternity howling their hearts out, in the blackness of the void”

He added

“It ain’t natural. I’ve never held with this newfangled photograph thing. It is Satanic, I tell you. Satanic! What’s the Internet?” 

Actually, he didn’t say that at all. What he did say was this: 

In our view they need a person’s consent if they make use of a person’s face for commercial ends

In what sense it putting a picture, along with thousands of other pictures of people who may or may not be identifiable, who might be walking past at a particular time, “making use of a person’s face for commercial ends”? The presence of people in these photographs is incidental.

For that matter, how is this different from, you know, walking down the street and looking at people while you trundle around?

Most people would regard being in somebody else’s photograph as a trivial matter.

I very much hope that Privacy International fails. There’s quite enough facile regulation of ordinary life. Only lawyers and professional photograph retouchers would benefit from having a quango like the Information Commissioner requiring companies to scour every photograph they take for the faces of passers-by, in order to remove them.

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