As an Internet lawyer, I monitor developing online privacy issues. Google’s Street View took another hit for allegedly violating privacy rights after it posted online photos of a 3-year-old boy nude in the garden behind his grandmother’s house. When the boy’s mother complained, Google blurred the nudity by altering the image’s pixels rather than taking down the photo.
If you were representing Google as an Internet lawyer, you’d be concerned not only about potential privacy issues but also child pornography laws. Even if inadvertent, taking pics of naked kids and posting them online is just begging for trouble — government investigations and probably shakedown lawsuits. This isn’t an issue of an adult sunbathing nude the backyard…it is a child who is mentally incapable of providing consent for the photos to be taken even if they were deemed artistic rather than pornographic.
There’s also an important distinction here that you can discuss with your Internet lawyer if you have privacy issues involving your website. Google was an active participant by creating this particular content and posting it online. That’s a different scenario than a website owner having a third party post similar content to a site without the owner’s knowledge.
What’s the solution? Google’s Internet lawyer team probably is advising the company to pre-screen Street View images for nudity before posting online. A warning sign about public nudity for Google Street View users probably isn’t going to cut it particularly if the subjects of the nude pics didn’t consent.