If you thought the grainy satellite images of naked sunbathers from Google Earth were a borderline invasion of privacy, Google Street View takes things to a whole new level. This remarkable feature allows users to take virtual 360-degree panaromic walk-through tours of a city – starting with San Francisco, of course. However, it has already captured people in a number of compromising situations, from scantily-clad sunbathers and unfortunate individuals going into and out of sex stores to apparent home break-ins.
On one level, this tool is obviously nifty. You could easy imagine wandering the virtual streets of San Francisco for hours. Still, your attitude might change pretty quickly if the scary-looking Google Street View Van caught you with your pants down (yes, literally – but the image has been taken down) or embarrassed others we knew. Already someone is asking Google to take down an image of her house cat – if Google complies, what could it mean but the end of this tool?
Meanwhile, you can vote on a continually-updated collection of the hottest, strangest and silliest Google Street View shots. Wired has set up a Digg/Reddit-like system for users to submit and rate the best images. If that doesn’t bring out any number of complaints from unintentional ‘Street View community members’ it’s hard to say what will! Meanwhile, here is their goofy tutorial for those of you who haven’t started exploring Google Street View yet.