My aunt lives somewhere on the territory of European Union and I navigated to her house in street view mode on Google Maps. I noticed that by navigating those images you can see into her house!

You can clearly see that she has a flower pot in the ground floor window. I mean, this doesn't create any problem, but what if she had a bathroom on that window and you could see her bathing? enter image description here

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    One should recall that the images in google street view are single snapshots, not live images. In fact they often are not even in the current season. This significantly reduces any actual privacy issues. This does not, however, speak to the legal issue. Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 19:33
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    In the EU this is the subject of national law, not union law (or perhaps in addition to union law), which is why street view coverage and related company policies are very different from one EU country to another.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 0:23
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    This is not relevant to the law, but you can go into street view -> (3 dots icon by address) -> report a problem -> Request blurring (my house), and google should blur the house in question, if you're concerned about it.
    – mbrig
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 2:15
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    @Kingsley no, it doesn't. You have to put your email into the form, but it works perfectly fine without being logged into anything
    – mbrig
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 4:23
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    "My aunt lives somewhere on the territory of European Union" If you're concerned about privacy, you might want to remove the exact address on the screenshot you've posted. Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 10:35

3 Answers 3


In Germany, taking pictures - and publishing them - is legal, if they're taken from public areas, from the general perspective of a passer-by, and if the picture doesn't make individual persons recognizable.

(There are some restrictions about making persons recognizable; if you take a picture of a monument or other building that would typically be photographed by tourists, and if the topic of the picture is clearly the monument, not a random bystander, then it's OK to publish even if the bystander's face is visible. But that doesn't work for individual's houses).

Still, Street View got into trouble because their cameras are mounted on roofs of a car, in a height of 2.5-3 meters, so they violated the "perspective of a passer-by" rule. To return to the example of "bathroom", the camera could well be able to see you nude when a passer-by would only be able to see a small portion of the ceiling next to the window.

Because of this, and because many Germans were uneasy with seeing their houses on the internet, as a condition to permit Street View at all, the German government insisted on allowing people to request their house to be removed; in 2010, approximately 250000 people made use of that (source: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-11595495).

Because of the high resistance against Street View in Germany, Google published what they had in 2011, but stopped collecting more images. This is explained in https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/germany-street-view/, which also explains some of the reasons why Germans are so heavily biased for privacy.

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    Google published what they had in 2011, but stopped collecting more images Let's just say that they did not collect much by 2011: imgur.com/a/8Vsd1om :)
    – WoJ
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 11:21
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    @WoJ: It's worth noting that Apple Maps now offers a similar product which has much more extensive coverage, in almost every German city and even many villages. It's just that this time around, it wasn't widely reported, so there was no mass panic like a decade ago for Google Street View.
    – Mophotla
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 13:42
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    I'm not sure I understand the height thing--it's taller than someone standing on the ground, sure, but a normal height for, e.g., passengers in a common coach bus. Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 18:07
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    @user3067860 Coach buses aren’t a normal thing in most German streets. It’s not something you would plan for with visual cover or your daily habits. Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 6:34
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    @user3067860 Do they exist? Yes. Are they normal passer-bys in residential areas? No. If they get an eyeful, they better look the other way and don’t take pictures. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 6:43


In R v Sotheren (2001) NSWSC 204 Justice Dowd said “A person, in our society, does not have a right not to be photographed.”

The tort of breach of privacy requires a reasonable expectation of privacy. If it can be seen from the street, it isn’t private.

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    @BogdanFloareș "seen from the street" is not to be taken literally. A more literal phrasing would be "with a direct line of sight when standing in a public space". Low Earth orbit is a public space, so the overhead footage of your house is figuratively "seen from the street" in the way this answer intended it.
    – Flater
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 2:09
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    To be noted "reasonable expectation of privacy" is NOT a principle used in many countries, including many EU countries.It's an English/US thing.
    – Bakuriu
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 7:18
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    @Flater Google Earth "satelite" images are not taken from Low Earth Orbit. They are taken from aircraft. (Actually, the country-scale images may be from orbit, but they have no privacy implications.) Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 9:10
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    @MartinBonnersupportsMonica and public airspace is public too, so it doesn't seem to matter to Flater's line of reasoning whether the photograph was taken from an airplane or a satellite.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 9:17
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    @phoog - Correct. I should have clarified that I wasn't criticizing his reasoning, just a minor detail in it. Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 9:25

Dale M's answer is correct, but there's more:

what if she had a bathroom on that window and you could see her bathing?

That could well lead to her being charged with public nudity / indecent exposure (depending on where exactly in Europe it is).

The fact that she would be exposing herself inside her house wouldn't matter: the fact that the public could easily see her from the street would. She would be aware of the visibility, and not taking steps to prevent it (e.g. privacy curtains) could well throw her into legal trouble.

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    You note "depending on where exactly in Europe this", but can I re-emphasize this more please. The freedom to be naked in your own garden is a bit of a grey area in Germany, but having a bathroom which it was possible to see into would not be. Deliberately taking a photograph of someone in such a bathroom would land you in hot water. Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 9:21
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    To chip in on this, i live in Belgium and the law states: "If you are visible for a passer-by without any effort from them, you CAN be charged." So if the passer-by has to jump for example, you are fine. But if they are just passing, and look to the right and see you naked. You could be in trouble. Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 10:01
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    As mentioned in another answer, the StreetView cars did not take images from the position of a passer-by but from a higher vantage point, so it's entirely possible they could e.g. see over a 2 meter fence.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 10:51
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    indecent exposure does not cut inside a bathroom, especially not when the camera is at least a meter above people's normal view. Indecent exposure only cuts in places where you are reasonable in public, e.g. on your balcony or the garden, but not in the house.
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 11:51
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    Aside from the legal aspects, if someone can see you nude from the street and you haven't done anything to mitigate, you'd be rather hypocritical to complain about it. Me, I'd call the architect an idiot.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 4:42

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