Google Maps already blurs the face of dogs. This is what the data protection laws say about animals

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Our privacy is important. And what about our pets? That is not so clear. Interestingly, from Google Maps it seems that they are starting to take the privacy of animals seriously. Recently, the tool Street View has begun to blur the faces of dogs.

According to Google statements to The Mirror: “When we create Street View content from user-submitted 360º video recordings, we apply our algorithms to automatically blur faces and license plates.” But as point from Redditfor a while now, applies this blur to dogs as well.

Unfortunately, the GDPR does not cover animals

Google’s decision to blur the faces of pets is not due to an application of the General Data Protection Regulation. Elena Gila lawyer specializing in privacy and data protection, explains that “data protection regulations only apply to living persons. They do not include animals, deceased persons, companiesetc…”.

The RGPD does not contemplate that privacy laws apply to animals, although there are experts such as Josep Canabateprofessor of law at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​who advocate opening this debate because “advances in information technologies pose some risks and threats to the rights of animals”.

Pets as part of the family: what the draft of the new Animal Protection Law says

Patrizia Paci, Clara Mancini and Bashar Nuseibeh, researchers at the Milton Keynes Institute, have published a report on privacy and animalspointing out that for example in GPS collars for dogs, some attackers could find out the route followed by these animals to commit pet theft. Just a one-off case where protecting the privacy of animals could have direct benefits for your own safety.

The reasons why Google would have decided to blur the faces of the dogs can be several. Gil explains that it is likely to be an automated system that detects faces and deletes them, without knowing if they are human or not. On the other hand, he also leaves the door open for them to be erased because they consider that Through who your pet is, the owner can be identified, who does have personal data protection.

In the same line he exposes Jorge Morell Ramosa consultant at Legaltech, who explains that “‘animal data’ can help identify or make a person identifiable. For example, when billing a veterinary service, by registering pets or through geolocation collars, for example. In any case, there the identified data would be that of the person, not that of the animal that today does not have protection in that sense. ”

Samuel Parraan expert lawyer in privacy and cybersecurity, remembers that the concept of “identifiable” has been stretched to a point where almost everything can be personal data. For example, the license plate of our car, an IP address, an email address (even if it is generic of the type abc@gmail.com), the number of the registered property of our house, a piece of graffiti… “this concept has been spreading legal to non-logical extremes,” explains Parra. In this sense, it would be spreading that it is possible to identify the person through the animal, although in his opinion “a dog should not be considered personal data”, despite acknowledging that “it would not be surprising” if the judges came to rule at that end.

From Xataka we have asked Google about the motivations for blurring the face of dogs and if it is done with the intention of protecting the privacy of their owners or of the animals themselves.

with the new Animal Protection Law approved in 2022 Different considerations on animals are introduced in Spain and new rights are guaranteed, but no new features in terms of privacy are included. A debate that perhaps comes too soon, but that there are already those who are analyzing it to be able to seriously consider it in the future.

Our privacy is important. And what about our pets? That is not so clear. Interestingly, from Google Maps it seems…

Our privacy is important. And what about our pets? That is not so clear. Interestingly, from Google Maps it seems…

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