Hoaxsters Play on Europe's Fear of Google

Germans chase fake Google Street View car out of town

By Sajid Farooq
|  Tuesday, Feb 9, 2010  |  Updated 4:28 PM PDT
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Hoaxsters Play on Europe's Fear of Google

Will Femia

A Google Street View car at work.

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Simply uttering the word "Google" in some parts of Europe is bound to get you cursed at or worse, mooned.

And a group of artists is not making things any easier for the search giant in a country that has been at the center of the anti-Google sentiment among Europeans.

An artist collective staged an elaborate hoax playing on the German's growing anxiety that Google is set to publish pictures of their steets on Street View. Free Art and Technology slapped a hatchback with a Google logo and strapped a camera on top and proceeded to drive slowly through the streets of Berlin.

What followed was a chorus of obscene anti-Google chants and a parade of men posing for the camera with their pants around their ankles. Google says it is aware of the car but it swears it's not part of some covert plot to catch the Germans in a comporising position, even though they could probably use the dirty pictures as leverage.

"This car was not an official Google car since we are currently not driving through Germany as there are not optimal weather and light conditions at this time of year," Google Spokeswoman Laura Scott wrote.

But if Germans, and in fact much of Europe, had their way, Google would not be filming their streets with or without optimal lighting conditions or not.

Germany is just one country that fought to keep Google from peddling through town with a camera. The country has a law banning photographing people or their property without their permission.

Google offered to compromise by allowing Germans to opt out of Street View before they were caught blushing, or to give them the power to ask to be removed from Street View after the fact.

But the troubles were not limited to the home of Ludwig van Beethoven. The European Union wants Google to notify citizens of its 27 member states before it takes a picture of them or their property. Not to mention the real-life Google car that was chased out of a small English town by angry villagers, or how some Europeans feels about some of the company's other projects.

To avoid future pranks, Google says Germans can track the real Street View car online.

Of course, that might just set up Google's vehicles for more Eurotrashing.

Here's the video -- not safe for work unless your office is a pants-free environment:

 

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