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Smile Whistler -- you're on Canpages Street View

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Whistler's Husky Gas Station

Thanks to Burnaby-based Canpages, most of Vancouver and Whistler's streets can now be viewed with the click of a mouse. Canpages has partnered with San Francisco's MapJack to deploy a mapping program similar to a Google's Street View.

What does this mean for those of us who moved to the wilderness to get away from prying eyes? These high-resolution images taken with a special 360-degree camera, allow web surfers users to get a panoramic, virtual view of our streets. The world can see who has kids, what kind of cars we drive, and how to access our homes.

Under Canadian privacy rules, Google and Canpages are supposed to inform residents that they're being photographed. I never received a warning. Wonder if our municipality was contacted? I should have clued in when I saw the camera-mounted car driving around my neighbourhood a few months ago.

In some UK towns, people have attacked the Google cars claiming that the service is invasive and violates privacy rules. These companies claim that the streets are public, but who gives a private company the right to look into our apartments?

While this feature is limited to streets in Vancouver, Whistler and Squamish, it is quickly expanding across the country. Is it a coincidence that Street View was launched in the 2010 Olympic host cities?

On the positive side, this feature could turn out to be the answer to combatting carbon emissions and climate change. Travel without leaving your home. Good for the environment, but bad for tourism revenue.

Canpages has promised to blur people's faces and license plates as required by Canadian privacy legislation. However, I was able to discern licence plate numbers in some cases.

What happens to the original images and what if those images are used for law enforcement purposes? If you find yourself on camera, it's up to you to let Google or Canpages know to "unblur" your face.

It's ironic that VANOC is spending over $1 billion to secure the 2010 Olympics, yet anyone with computer can see just about anything for free.

Last week, B.C. residents learned that the province and Vancouver's 2010 Integrated Security Unit (ISU) are spending $2.6 million for the temporary use of CCTV in Vancouver and Whistler during the Olympics. Some experts predict that CCTV cameras will outnumber TV cameras during the Games.

Despite reassurances by local lawmakers that the cameras will be removed after March 2010, CCTV cameras have never been removed from previous Olympic games.

Guess we better get used to the new police state and practice being on our best behaviour.

To see if you're on the list, perform a basic search at Canpages.ca.




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