You might have already noticed, but people’s faces on Google’s Street View are always blurred. In the early 2000s, Google was pressured to take security and privacy seriously. And in 2008, the tech conglomerate began testing a technology that blurs faces and car license plates. They have been successfully implementing it for more than a decade now.
Fast forward to 2022, there are no faces or car plates openly exposed on the platform. Alphabet’s Google has been pretty strict on the self-imposed rule to maintain people’s privacy. Google improved its privacy options by allowing people to blur their houses out of the platform too, again with security and privacy in mind.
Google’s tools are helping people explore other places and enjoy having virtual walks in different areas around the globe. Unfortunately, Google learned the hard way that unintentionally their free service was also utilized by criminals who used it to steal, cause harm, and damage. Trouble makers are actively using the free service to see where couriers could be leaving parcels. Potential intruders have been using Google’s see-it-all service to plan house robberies, and fraudsters have been able to cross-reference stolen data with real life.
One of the ways hackers decide how much to get from a potential victim is by looking up the victim’s lifestyle, which includes the victim’s home residence. For example, Google Maps quickly gives away the type of car owned by a potential victim or the quality of the neighborhood of the targeted person. This helps hackers know how much they can potentially get out of a victim. For example, if you have a parked older car manufactured in last century, hackers may decide not to blackmail you even if they’ve somehow managed to penetrate your system.
While security is certainly of concern, privacy might also be a good reason for people to blur their houses. With Google Maps, random strangers are only a few clicks away from knowing the color of your curtains, the model of the car parked in front of the house, and other details about your property. A concerned parent may want to keep a daughter’s privacy intact, or an abusive ex-partner might find it hard to learn more about its escapee if a house is blurred on Street View.
Anyone can type an address on Google Maps, click on the three dots, and then hit report a problem to blur a house. Once prompted, homeowners can focus the view on their property and adjust the image view of their home. Then they can request blurring of the house by providing an email. After completing the captcha validation, Google takes care of your request. Once a blur is requested, it stays there forever.
Sadly, Google Maps is not the only place that potentially has images of your property on public display. If privacy is a genuine concern, you may want to take pictures down from real estate brokerages and online property marketplaces such as Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin. The last thing you want is for your potential intruder to know the location of a safe or guns in the house. The less you share, the more likely it would be for criminals to stay away from a particular property.