Many Americans don’t realize it, but Google actually has vehicles driving around the United States taking what are called “street view” pictures. If your home can be seen from a public street, there’s a good chance it’s on Google Maps.
How Google Maps Threatens Your Privacy
If want to find out whether your home is on Google Maps, simply go to Google Maps and type in your address. When the map appears you might see a small stick figure on the left side of the screen. Drag that stick figure to your street, and your house – and others – will appear. (Note: If the street is not highlighted in blue on the map, then your house and street have not been photographed.)
This can be a major problem for privacy because the Google picture can show strangers a great deal of your home and your life. When Fox and Friends contributor Kurt “the Cyber Guy” Knutsson went to Google Maps he discovered something bothersome — the inside of his garage and its contents, because he had left the garage door open the day the Google car drove down his road.
That’s not all that Knutson saw on Google. Google had taken a picture of his cars.
“You could see our license plates plain as day,” Knutson said. Knutson’s discovery indicates that details of your private life, and information that could harm you, can show up on Google Maps. Google claims it blurs out license plates and individuals before it posts pictures to street view, although it’s obvious that doesn’t always happen.
How to Hide Your House
The bad news is that there is no way to keep your address off of Google Maps. The good news is that you can get Google to blur out your property so Google Maps users will not see it. Here’s the process which is outlined at Google.
How to get your property blurred:
- Go to Google Maps and type in your address
- Bring up the street view of your property
- Look to the bottom right hand corner of the screen you should see an Icon Labeled: “report a problem.”
- Click on “report a problem.”
- You will get a page labeled “report inappropriate street view.”
- Look for the words “Privacy Concerns” and click on them.
- If you want your house blurred, click on “my house.” Then choose the option: “I have a picture of my house and would like it blurred.”
- Adjust the image and show Google which part of the photo needs blurred.
- Type the verification code at the bottom of the page into the box provided and click submit.
- Check back in a few days to see if the image has been blurred.
You can also get license plates and faces blurred. For example, if you want a picture of your business on Google Maps but don’t want the license plate number of your vehicle parked in front on Google, you can get that blurred. You can also get your car blurred out as well if you want.
Google wants you to report license plate numbers and faces that aren’t blurred so it can blur them out. This process does seem to work, and it is free.
Google is Watching You
The amount of information Google collects through Google Maps and posts online is frightening. Not every address is included in Google Street View, though. Addresses in many rural areas are not on street view. Although, chances are that your home is on it if you live in a suburban or urban area.