Google Street View is making some changes with regard to its privacy policies and its newest adjustment to said policies is blurring the faces of cows! The first cow to appear with its facial features blurred lives in Coe Fen, in Cambridge. Humans are routinely "blurred" by the program in order to keep their identities more secure. However, this is the first example of bovine blurring!
A lot of people found the whole thing humorous and this is why the cow's blurred face went viral on social media. In particular, Twitter users loved the photograph and re-tweeted it nine thousand times. Plenty of funny captions and comments accompanied this plethora of retweets! Bad puns were also out there in abundance!
While the necessity of blurring bovine facial features is in dispute, animals are currently playing a more prominent role in Google Street's operations. For example, the interface is expanding at present, by mapping out the Faroe Islands via certain "landmarks", including local sheep!
Privacy issues are always at the forefront with these types of interfaces, which capture environments and, sometimes, people and/or animals. In 2013, Google Street recorded a picture of a male with a pick axe handle in his hands. He was looming over a human body which appeared dead. However, it was a hoax which was created when the perpetrator noticed a Google car (these cars record the images used in the interface) in the region.
Blurring is an effective way to protect privacy most of the time. However, it does have its limitations, as people may still be identified in other ways. For example, someone who dresses a certain way or has certain identifiable body characteristics, such as tattoos, may still be recognised, at least by those who know him or her. So, there are privacy issues and challenges.
Nonetheless, recording in public is legal. The blurring of people and cows is Google Street's attempt to provide privacy at a higher level. It's safe to say that many people would be unhappy if they were identifiable via the interface. It might feel invasive to them. It's doubtful, though, that bovines will be bothered, so many people are wondering why Google Street even went to the trouble of blurring the cow in question, and whether they are going to make the effort to blur more cows in the future.
Do You Use Google Streets?
If you use this interface, you've probably seen a few blurred faces already. If you don't, you may learn more about it at the official Google Street View website. This interface is available via an app, too, so it's compatible with an array of mobile hardware. The app gets good ratings and it's quite popular. Google is a powerhouse in terms of meeting the needs of Web-connected customers. Its suite of services grows and it's safe to say that many people look to Google when they want map information, street views and a host of other practical information. Google's reach is definitely far and wide.