The picture of naked three-year-old Loius Mears which appeared on Google Street View. The picture has been pixellated after his mother complained to Google.
Mum’s outrage over picture of naked son on Google Street View
by Alice McKeegan
A mum has told of her horror after Google published a photograph of her young son naked on the internet.
Claire Rowlands, 25, was stunned to see the image of little Louis Mears playing on a sunny day in his gran’s garden in Walkden.
Louis, three, had been snapped by Google’s controversial ‘camera car’, as it took pictures of every road in Britain for the search engine’s Street View service. The company had blurred out the registration plate of a car on the drive of the house – but the image of Louis, who was wearing nothing but his shoes, was uncensored.
In another image, taken seconds later, Louis’s face was clearly identifiable, but his modesty was preserved by a fence.
Shocked Claire, who lives on the same road as her mother, said she had no idea the pictures had been taken and accused Google of invading her son’s privacy. She said:“I just felt sick to my stomach when I saw the naked picture of Louis on the internet. I’m angry, disgusted and upset about it – they should be checking every image before it goes up.
“They should be extra careful on warm days because this is what children do – he was just playing in the garden and we didn’t expect in a million years he’d have his picture taken and put on the internet for anyone to see.
“It’s such a clear image, I see it as an indecent photograph – my concern is that paedophiles could see it and there’s no way I ever wanted my son to be seen naked all over the world.
“Louis was on private property. Surely residents should be asked if they’re happy to have their pictures taken before this is allowed to happen.”
Google has now apologised and said it has blurred the image.
The company’s software automatically obscures car number plates but does not detect human bodies.
A spokeswoman said: “We take issues around inappropriate content in our products very seriously, and we removed the image in question within an hour of being notified.
“For us, privacy and user choice remain paramount.
“This is why we have put in place tools so that if people see what they believe to be inappropriate, they can report them to us using the simple tools and the images will be quickly removed. We apologise for any inadvertent concern this may have caused.”
Privacy groups have already blasted Street View, which they branded a ‘burglar’s charter’ when it was launched last year.
Alex Deane, from the Big Brother Watch group, said: “This is not the first time this has happened but the excuses are wearing thin.
“Google still needs to take greater responsibility for people’s personal privacy and introduce stronger safeguards to the system.”