November 3, 2020

Privacy Tip of the Week: Blur Your House on Google Street View

Posted by Rhiannon

Google is one of the biggest companies in the world. They launched more than two decades ago as a simple search engine but now dominate the tech industry with their email platform, document suite, smart technology, translation services, and more. One of the most well-known services the business offers is Google Maps and Google Street View. Maps itself is a great way to find directions to nearly anywhere in the world. Google Street View, on the other hand, gives an intimate look at neighbourhoods found around the globe…including yours. While most people think this glimpse into the lives of others is harmless, having your home visible to the world may be more invasive to your privacy than you think. Because of this, you may want to consider blurring your house on Street View. Here’s why and how:

  • Street View enables stalking
  • Your valuables may be visible
  • How to blur your house

Street View Enables Stalking

We know this idea seems somewhat far-fetched, however it’s not completely implausible. When the service first launched, it came with promises to blur the faces of anyone accidentally caught on camera. However, with millions, if not billions of faces to blur, some people fell through the cracks. In a complaint against the platform, one woman had moved to a new location to get away from a violent partner but her face was visible on Street View outside of her new home, causing fear that her partner would be able to find her. Although unlikely to happen to you, having your face or home visible for the world to see may result in some negative consequences.

Your Valuables May Be Visible

With each new iteration, Street View’s quality has improved. While this is great for finding landmarks, it’s not so great for your privacy. It’s possible that images of your house may provide a glimpse into the valuables you own, including cars, TVs visible from windows, and more. Although this scenario is also unlikely, some have concerns that Street View may provide opportunities for criminals to case houses as potential robbery targets.

How to Blur Your House

Although you can’t physically blur your house on Street View yourself, you can request that Google does. The process of making the request is fairly easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Type your home address into Google Maps
  • Enter the Street View function
  • Click Report a Problem in the bottom right corner of your screen (on desktop view).
  • Follow the directions in the form. You can request blurring of a home, face, car/license plate, or a different object.
  • Click Submit when you’re done filling out the form.

Note: If you request blurring, this action is incredibly difficult if not impossible to undo. Be absolutely sure you want to complete your request before you submit it.

Blurring your home on Google Street View is an excellent way of using online technology to protect yourself offline. For better online protection, consider using a virtual private network like HotBot VPN. Our service encrypts your data and makes you anonymous online so none of your activity can be traced or used against you.

Posted by Rhiannon

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