UPDATE: Hear what Google has to say about it.
As I write, BBC technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones is on his way to the Buckinghamshire village of Broughton, where the locals are revolting.
Is this a copy-cat outbreak of #G20 summit protests? Actually, no; it’s all about the Web’s favourite search engine Google.
According to news sources, local residents have sent the Google Street View vehicle packing by forming a human barricade. Thames Valley Police, in customary non-judgemental police speak, report a “dispute between a crowd of people and a Google Street View contractor”. It’s about privacy, say Broughton’s inhabitants; Google says it’s working within the law and that there’s “an easy way to request removal of imagery”.
What’s got Broughton so hot under the collar? According to UpMyStreet the inhabitants have a bigger predilection for “golf, gardening and visiting National Trust properties” – hardly the stuff of anarchic, direct action.
But while Google sees Street View as a “rich, immersive browsing experience”, some Broughton people see it as a burglars’ charter.
Just this week, while talking with a client about the impact of social media, the question was mooted: “Has Google gone too far with Street View?” But despite the privacy backlash on its launch, there was no suggestion it would result in Home Counties’ insurrection.
Twittering lawyer, John Halton, pictures a baying medieval mob, though is careful to disclaim this view:
Others in the Twitterverse are divided on the topic, but have the “good people of Broughton” touched a nerve within the populace that Google – maybe over-estimating the benign acceptance it enjoys around the world – never anticipated?
Broughton seems to be saying: “Listen Google, I’m happy for you to track down the cheapest car insurance and my secondary school sweetheart, but keep your 360 degree cyber nose out of my property.” An Englishman’s home remains his castle, it seems. You don’t get much more medieval than that.