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3rd Story

Canada tells Google not to point camera north

Canada seems to be camera shy, at least when photos are being taken for Google Street View. Jennifer Stoddart, Canada's federal privacy commissioner, has written to Google Inc. and its associate to inform them that their popular Street View site could violate privacy legislation if the company decides to snap shots of Canadian addresses, and in turn, people, according to a Sept. 18 InterGovWorld.com article.

"It's a very different legal environment than in the United States . in the U.S., all this is based on a reasonable expectation of privacy. You don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy walking down the street (in the U.S.)," Halifax-based privacy lawyer David Fraser told InterGovWorld.com.

The same is not true in Canada. The Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA) requires the consent of the person featured for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information for commercial activity.

"I don't think there's a lot of doubt that an image of you doing something is your personal information. And just based on that and a strict reading of the privacy law, it would seem that Google requires your consent," Fraser said.

Neither Google nor Immersive Media, which photographs cities for Google, responded to InterGovWorld.com's interview requests.

In May, Google launched Street View in the U.S. The Google Maps feature allows users to see what streets - and at times the people who happen to be there - look like. Sometimes the photos contain interesting or funny images. Several websites, such as Street View Gallery, have popped up to exhibit the humourous photos.

Immersive Media already has started taking images in Canadian cities, Colin McKay of the Privacy Commissioner's Office told InterGovWorld.com.

"We wanted to make sure we'd had a discussion about privacy before the pictures were made public . and about the steps they were taking to guarantee the privacy of Canadian citizens," McKay said.

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