EWT31 – Home Sweet Home

EWT31 – Home Sweet Home

Date: 14th August 2010
Time: 15:30 – 17:30 UTC

Product
Street View

Mission
Over the past week Google has announced Street View availability in Germany within this year. The German government is prejudiced about this step, while the major public is concerned about privacy issues.

Test Google Street Views for holes in data security. Report anything like visible faces, car licence numbers, … on Bug Repository, including a screenshot of the view as well as the coordinates of that shot. You get until 4.30pm UTC for this.

In the discussion session during the second hour, we will talk about whether or not you recommend Google Street View, or if government should restrict these pictures or the service.

Testers: Ajoy Kumar Singha, Tarik Sheth, Anna Baik, Ajay Balamurugadas, Markus Gärtner

Markus Gärtner facilitated the discussion afterwards.

Ajay Balamurugadas started the discussion. He mentioned that the help google included for Street View was very helpful. He started to explore some areas, and once he found a few clearly visible faces, it turned rather simple to get to locations where this was the case. Searching for parks and people found the most there. In regard to give a recommendation for the German government, Ajay stated that he explicitly does not recommend Street View. Google Maps is great for navigation, but showing houses of people does not serve any direct purpose or yields any additional benefit.

Ajoy Kumar Singha stated that he will not recommend Street View. He explained that it’s a privacy issue, since the application may be used for anti-social activities. Ajoy explained that he looked for sensitive places like governmental offices. He made clear that he was not concerned about showing empty street with no building nearby, but showing his home’S backyard with a picture of his wife – even with blurred face – concerned him.

Tarik Sheth explained that Street View could be worth to get a feeling for the current traffic before hitting home from work for example. Of course for this the stream needs to be as live as possible. Tarik did not see anything that would have concerned him.

Anna Baik explained that she started the mission seeking for pictures of houses. She figured that more public locations would be more suitable for this, so she checked out cafes, where she could see inside rather well. She continued that she also took a look on phone numbers on cars. Google seemed to be inconsistent in this regard, as a closer picture was sometimes blurred, but taking a few steps back showed the printing clearly. Anna also pointed to two news stories where thieves had used Google Street View before their thievery. Anna explained that she’d be wary about Street View considering the wifi troubles recently.

Markus Gärtner explained that he started to go for places where he previously had been. He stated that the security had improved since he had a first look on Street View. After this session, he would still recommend more exploration on partially hidden licenses and faces, which the software is unlikely to detect, but humans still recognize, views into buildings, and finally reflections on shiny surfaces like mirrors or large windows.

The chat transcript can be inspected here.

Images credits: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3389/3274289377_b428721cbd.jpg

About the Author