Three-Year-Old Nudist Caught By Google’s Camera

If you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years, you might not be aware that Google, once known solely as an internet search engine, currently offers many other services, including street and satellite maps of a goodly portion of the world.  In addition, for many cities, you can access their “Street View” — 360 degree images as seen by cameras mounted atop roving vehicles.  For some, it’s a great way to explore the world but for others, it’s an invasion of privacy.  Such is the opinion of Claire Rowlands of Walkden, Greater Manchester in England.

Rowland’s three-year-old son, Louis, was apparently caught on camera as he wandered about his grandmother’s garden wearing nothing but his shoes and a smile.  This has her in a tizzy, of course.  “I just felt sick to my stomach when I saw the naked picture of Louis on the internet,” she said.  “I’m angry, disgusted and upset about it – they should be checking every image before it goes up.”  Because it’s a piece of cake to inspect tens or hundreds of millions of automatically generated images just because someone somewhere might be wandering around their front yard in the buff.

Google, to their credit, blurred the boy’s backside as soon as they were notified.  They also do their best to automatically blur faces and car license plates before the images become available on Street View.  Apparently, however, they missed little Louis and his bare bottom.  Rowland blames Google, saying “Louis was on private property. Surely residents should be asked if they’re happy to have their pictures taken before this is allowed to happen.”  The thing is, in the United States at least, if you are visible from public property — such as a roadway — you are fair game for photographers.

According to Bert Krages’ excellent guide, The Photographer’s Right, “Property owners may legally prohibit photography on their premises but have no right to prohibit others from photographing their property from other locations.”  That means you can’t go into their yard or home to take pictures without permission but you can stand on the sidewalk and take all the photos you like.

So who’s really at fault here?  Is it Google, the company searching out naked children to photograph and post on the internet or is it Claire Rowlands, the mom who let her three-year-old run around naked in public and then got upset when he was innocently caught on film?  I think I have to side with Google on this one — if you don’t want your picture taken in the buff, cover up.  It’s that simple.

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