Street View Privacy for Public Art

During integration of Google Street View into Portland Wild, I noticed something surprising. Google was blurring the faces of inhabitants of Portland’s public art, even high above street level.

Here’s a five story living mural recently completed on Division Street in which Google blurs the subject’s face to protect its privacy:

Portland Wild guide to public art murals

Living Mural at 959 SE Division Street

As someone who’s backside was once the centerpiece of my home’s street view appearance for a couple of years, I appreciate their efforts.

Unfiltered, my backside at home

Cleavage Remains Okay

Several subjects from this block long Keller Auditorium Mural were blurred, while others weren’t … for now, cleavage is still okay:

Portland Wild murals privacy on Street View

Keller Auditorium Mural, 1520 SW 2nd Avenue

Keller Auditorium mural street view privacy

Keller Auditorium Mural, 1598 SW 2nd Ave

Angle Impacts Face Detection

The angle of the street view impacts whether Google detects a person, hopefully this doesn’t foreshadow problems with literal impacts of self-driving cars:

Google Street View Face Detection Privacy

Angle Affects Face Detection

Here’s the four story Untitled, Washington Plaza mural:

Google Street View Privacy

Untitled, Washington Plaza Mural

Here’s The Fiercest Athlete’s Mural:

Portland Wild art murals in portland

The Fiercest Athletes, SW 10th Ave

Here’s local legend Steve Prefontaine featured in part of The Cheerful Tortoise Mural (or is he running out of the establishment?):

steve prefontaine google street view privacy

The Cheerful Tortoise Mural, 1939 SW 6th

If you enjoy street art, check out Portland Wild, a Google maps driven visual guide to Portland’s public art and its Heritage Trees and Little Free Libraries.

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest.

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