A picture of the body of a teenaged boy murdered in 2009 was apparently displayed on Google Maps for as long as four years, and the boy’s family and privacy groups are outraged.
When a satellite took a picture of Richmond, California, for Google Maps in 2009, it picked up an image of police officers examining the body of Kevin Barrera, then 14. Barrera had been shot and his body was dumped near some railroad tracks. The image was placed on Google without anyone knowing it.
The image showed a train, railroad tracks and police cars. The body has now been obscured — as can be seen in the photo here — with a white box covering up the image of the body.
Father speaks out
Barrera’s father Jose only learned about the Google Maps image when a local TV station called him and asked him about it. Google was apparently unaware that it had inadvertently posted images of a crime scene online.
“All the memories are coming back to four years ago,” Jose Barrera told the San Jose Mercury News.
“When I see this image, it’s still like that happened yesterday,” he told a TV station. “And that brings me back a lot of memories.
Google has issued an apology to the Barrera family but Jose does not think it is enough. The search engine giant has started the process to remove the image.
“Our hearts go out to the family of this young boy,” Google Maps vice president Bruce McClendon wrote in a press release. Disturbingly McClendon admitted that it will take eight days or longer to move the picture from Google maps. “We believe we can update this in eight days, and we’ve spoken to the family to let them know we’re working hard on the update.”
When Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy asked Google why it would take eight days to remove the picture from Google Maps, he didn’t get an answer.
Privacy, Cassidy said, is gone forever:
The raw pain of a father puts into a fresh light the steady parade of unintended consequences that the digital revolution has brought about. Between Facebook bullying, NSA snooping and data security breaches that have transformed the lives of many into open books, we’re constantly reminded of how little control we have over what was once uniquely ours. We’re not going back, no matter how many times the digital revolution blows up in our faces. The technological advances are far too profitable for those who are advancing them and far too convenient for those who are using them.
Your life on Google Maps
If you want to see how exposed our lives have become, simply type your home address into Google Maps. You’ll be shocked by what you find.
Google has cars that drive around the country taking pictures of homes, alleys and everything else. The license plate numbers of cars on Google Maps images are supposed to be obscured, but other information is available. The street view feature on Google Maps actually shows addresses and clear views of houses.
There apparently is no way to get your house blurred from a satellite view, but Google will blur your house from its street view maps. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, simply follow this procedure:
- Go to Google Maps and type in your address
- Bring up the street view of your property
- Look to the bottom right hand corner of the screen you should see an Icon Labeled: “report a problem.”
- Click on “report a problem.”
- You will get a page labeled “report inappropriate street view.”
- Look for the words “Privacy Concerns” and click on them.
- If you want your house blurred, click on “my house.” Then choose the option: “I have a picture of my house and would like it blurred.”
- Adjust the image and show Google which part of the photo needs blurred.
- Type the verification code at the bottom of the page into the box provided and click submit.
- Check back in a few days to see if the image has been blurred.
You can use this procedure to get almost any image on Google Maps removed or blurred. If Google doesn’t take action about something on Google Maps, complain to the media. As the Berrera case demonstrates, Google is sensitive to bad publicity