The first time I typed my address into Google Maps, I was surprised to discover a picture of my house with the garage door wide open. I could see all my tools, my generator, the empty box from my 50-inch television, and even my car’s license plate number. It felt like a huge invasion of privacy.
Most people don’t care about their house being on Google Street View, but they should. It allows strangers to learn a lot about your home, or the contents of your garage (if it was open when the Street View Car drove by). There’s even a feature that allows people to take a virtual drive through any neighborhood. A burglar could cruise along until he sees a house with its garage door open. If he notices anything valuable inside, he could make that house his next target.
Fortunately, there’s a very easy way to have your house blurred out.
- Go to Google Maps.
- Type in your address.
- Click on the picture of your house.
- Look at the bottom right corner of the screen and click “Report a problem.”
- Drag the picture and zoom in or out until your house is inside the red box.
- Under “Request Blurring” select “My home.”
- Type in your email address, click the button verifying you’re not a bot, and submit.
- Wait a few days, and check again to see if your house has been blurred.
You can use the same form to blur out a face or a license plate. Although Google Street View is supposed to blur these things out automatically, it misses quite a few.
But keep in mind that once Google blurs something out, it’s permanent. There is no reversing it. So if later you try to sell your house, people might complain about it being blurred out on street view.
Maybe I’m just paranoid, but it seems like the older I get, the harder it is to protect my privacy. Nowadays you have to be careful not to let the details of your life onto the Internet. Be sure to look up your house on Google Maps and make sure there isn’t anything there you wouldn’t want people to see.