Government isn’t the only intruder

Published 10:38 am Monday, July 9, 2012

Column: Something About Nothing

The Colorado fires were on all our minds a week or so ago. I have friends and family in Colorado and although I knew they were safe I was curious as to how close the fires were to their homes.

I decided to Google their addresses and check it out. I was very surprised when I put in their addresses and the Google map showed their location. It also showed the picture of their homes.

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At first I thought it was probably just a sample picture. I decided to Google my California relative’s addresses. I had been to their homes. Imagine my surprise when the pictures were the actual pictures of their houses. Keep in mind most of these pictures were closeups.

I must have the curiosity of a cat and way too much time on my hands. I started Googling Minnesota addresses and Texas addresses. These results did not turn up any pictures. I didn’t check out other states until this article. Craig, you know who you are. Check it out. I love your house.

Later one evening I called my friend in Colorado. I told her that I loved her house. I wanted to know if the camper sitting by her house was hers.

I also complimented her husband on the choice of color of his pickup. I had never been to their home, so imagine her reaction to the fact that I was describing her home in detail. I explained about Google and the address situation. It made her very uncomfortable. The picture of her home was on the Internet and she had not had any knowledge of that.

It was not as if her home had been up for sale recently and her property had been listed in the real estate ads. In fact all of the homes I Googled had been under the same ownership for at least 20 years.

I must admit finding those pictures scared me. I still remember privacy. I have written about that many times before. It is not only the fact of the pictures of the homes being on the Internet but also the fact that the homeowners had no idea that these pictures were being found when their address was being punched in.

Apparently these are from satellite photos. I did a little Googling myself and found that if this disturbs you that Google had these pictures on their map you could let them know, and they would reduce it to street view. My friends must have done this after I talked to them because now the only photo is a street view of their neighborhood. I rechecked others that I had visited before and a few other relatives in other states and the pictures of their house remained on Google.

It makes me wonder what else is happening with our privacy that we don’t know about. We seem to worry about the government invading our privacy. We seem to worry and be upset about the government intrusion into our lives when it comes to laws that are being enacted.

Perhaps we should be more worried about the intrusion of the Internet and corporate America’s intrusion into our lives.  Every click we make on the Internet is being tracked. Every form we fill out with information about our lives is being tracked. We are happy clickers on those enticing ads.

Perhaps we should think twice about our clicky fingers. Big Brother isn’t the only one watching you. Beware of those Goo Goo Googly Eyes.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at