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Google Faces Heat Over New "Living Room View"
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (CAP) - Google, Inc.'s latest addition to its Google Maps and Google Earth programs is facing an uphill battle as the company tries to move it out of private beta. Opponents of the new Google Living Room View say this time, the search giant has gone too far.
"I'm not quite sure where to begin describing what's wrong with this one," said ACLU President Nadine Strossen. "Oh, wait, I know. How about, What the fuck?"
Google Maps' latest feature, creatively codenamed Google LRV during production and early testing, takes its advanced Street View right into the home, allowing users a virtual tour inside people's houses, as well as businesses and other landmarks.
Google employed numerous techniques to obtain the footage from which they built the application, including people posing as homebuyers who visited thousands of open houses over the past six years.
"We also posed as assessors, repairmen, meter readers - whatever it took to get inside people's homes," said Stephen Chau, Google Maps product manager and lead developer of LRV. "Really, this is just a natural extension of our Street View feature, except that nobody's gonna bully us into blurring anything with this one."
Chau said once Google opens up the app to developer API's, the possibilities with LRV will be limitless. He said he envisions a time when people can take pictures of items or furniture they like from different websites and use their own LRV for a sort of virtual interior design.
"But even now, imagine not having to ask someone where their bathroom is when you visit them for the first time because you already scoped out their house online," added Chau. "Saves a lot of hassle."
Chau acknowledged that there could be unintended consequences with LRV, possibly giving a whole new meaning to "casing the joint" and bringing home burglary into the 21st century.
"But I'm sure the people who invented guns didn't intend for anyone to actually die, either," Chau noted. "We're just building the vehicle; we're not driving the car."
The ACLU has already announced plans to sue Google over the new software once it goes to public beta. Google has said if that happens, they will make sure users can access the courthouse via LRV in time for any proceedings.
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