Parent worries, says Google Earth didn’t blur children enough

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Chas Elratrout saw one of her daughters -- and her neighbor’s girls and boy -- on Google Street View.

Google had blurred their faces, but not as much as Elratrout would have liked.

“I couldn’t believe it. I went to look myself and there was my child and my neighbor’s children. They are indeed on the Internet with our address for the whole world to see which I think is just awful. I couldn’t believe it,” she told Jason Stoogenke from our sister station in Charlotte. “I would never go up a street and take a picture of anybody’s kids like that and put it out there for the whole world to see with their address.”

She says she emailed Google, but couldn’t get it resolved on her own.

“To me, that’s an invasion of privacy really, especially for minors,” she said.

Google says on its website it “takes a number of steps to protect the privacy of individuals when Street View imagery is published to Google Maps.”

It goes on to say, “We have developed cutting-edge face and license plate blurring technology that is designed to blur identifiable faces and license plates within Google-contributed imagery in Street View. If you see that your face or license plate requires additional blurring, or if you would like us to blur your entire house, car, or body, submit a request using the ‘Report a problem’ tool.”

So Stoogenke did that for Elratrout and her neighbor. He checked a day or two later and Google had blurred the children more. You couldn’t recognize the neighbor kids.

But Stoogenke wanted to make sure from every perspective. So he moved the cursor around to rotate the shot. And, from another angle, you could still make out Elratrout’s daughter.

So he submitted another request for that. And, again, he checked a day or two later and it was fixed.

Stoogenke reached out to Google for a statement but didn’t hear back in time for this report.  That said, when he was submitting requests, Google did send auto-replies saying, “Privacy and security are important to us, and your input helps us make Google Maps better for everyone.”

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