You’ve probably been on Google Maps before and thought, “Wow, Google Street View is cool!”. But have you thought about the privacy and security implications of allowing the entire world to have a high definition curbside view of your property? Please note, if you’re a high foot traffic business in a complex, it makes sense to allow tech-savvy onlookers to get a preview of what your storefront looks like. This is for everyone else!
If you’re unfamiliar with Google Street View, it essentially provides a street-level view of many towns and cities worldwide. Google uses individual photographers and roving vehicles to capture real-time images of streets all over the world. Understandably, it’s been a controversial Google offering since its inception in 2007. As privacy issues come to light, Google adapted and has added auto-blurring of license plates and faces to avoid scrutiny.
Just think: everything you can see on Google Maps Street View, the entire world also can see. That includes stalkers, criminals, and everyone in between. Do you want people to examine the outside of your home or business with that level of specificity?
The good news is there are actions you can take today to protect yourself on Google Maps. This blog is for all home and building owners: it’s time to seriously consider blurring your Google Street View for increased physical security and privacy. At PK Tech, we recommend this for all of our clients, both personally and professionally.
Here are a few reasons why we think it’s a good idea:
- Prevent opportunists from analyzing the front of your property. E.g., open gates, front door covered from Street View, and mail/packages piling up. Ask yourself, what advantage do you get from having this data visible to the world?
- Prevent individuals from associating your car to your property. E.g., a savvy stalker could peruse entire neighborhoods in Street View from their living room and find where you live if Street View caught your car parked at home. Why even allow this possibility?
- Prevent commercial use of Street View pictures of your property. E.g., “we buy houses” groups have already automated converting Street Views of properties into mailed letters that try to trick you into opening them. This will only get more elaborate and invasive over time.
4 Steps to Blur Your Home or Building on Google Street View:
- Visit https://www.google.com/maps and search for your address.
- Select the Street View picture shown on the bottom left.
- Click ‘Report a Problem’ on the bottom right when your building is centered.
- Make sure “Street View: (address)” at the top has your actual address on it. Every time we tested this, the default address was wrong. If it’s wrong, click back, move the Street View a bit, then click Report a Problem again. Once your address is at the top, we can fill out the form.
Select "My home" and enter in "I have a safety concern". Enter in your email address and submit the form.
You'll receive an email confirming your request was received, but nothing further regarding it was approved or denied. Check back in 24-48 hours to see if it worked. This process worked for us within 24 hours.
Bonus tip: Also blur your property on Bing Maps for the dozens of people using that platform over Google Maps. Go here, search for your address, click Streetside, click Feedback, click report a privacy concern, and fill out the form.
Please reach out if you have any questions.