Note: Google Street View – Privacy Issues Down the Street, Across the Border, and Over the Seas
46 Pages Posted: 16 May 2010
Date Written: April 11, 2008
The backbone of the Internet is comprised of technology companies that provide the hardware and software. They are a conduit, and sometimes also a warehouse, for all of the information transmitted around the globe. And although these companies provide great benefits, they are also a source of great concern. Among these concerns is that a person’s privacy can be seriously compromised by the pervasiveness of the technology around them. It is difficult for the law to quickly adapt to the rapidity of technological advances, especially one that defies jurisdictional boundaries with impudence. Each country has developed different laws to govern the Internet but the policies behind each country’s laws may be very disparate, resulting in a lack of uniformity in how the Internet is regulated in different jurisdictions. Some countries favor a person’s interest in privacy over the business interests of companies while other countries have reached the opposite conclusion. This note looks at three particular jurisdictions – the United States, Canada, and the European Union (EU) – and determines which jurisdiction best balances the personal interest in privacy with the business interest in exploiting personal information, using Google Street View as a case study. The US, as a bastion of capitalism, has favored the business interest in collecting and using personal information. On the other hand, the EU considers privacy a human right and uses comprehensive legislation to protect that right. Canada, influenced by both the US and the EU, has taken the middle road in balancing the personal and business interests.
This paper was completed as a requirement of the Boston University Journal of Science and Technology Law staff note process. It should not be cited without express author consent.
Keywords: privacy law, Google, Street View, Canada, United States, European Union, Internet
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