People around the world agree – a lack of privacy is a concern we all share. We know some websites sell our personal information. For the right amount of money, it seems anything is for sale. So, why give it away for free?
In this article, we will examine one invasion of our privacy – Google Maps. Sure anyone can just drive past your house and take a look unless you have a very long driveway or a very high fence. Enter the primer on how to blur your house on Google Maps.
Your home, or anyone’s home for that matter, is no longer private when anyone in the world can google-up your address and take a look. So, how can we block Google from displaying our private homes for all the world to see? Read below for how to blur your house on Google Maps, like the example to the left in Reading, Massachusetts.
How To Blur Your House on Google Maps: A Primer
Recently many articles have appeared online with instructions on how to blur your home on Google Maps Street View. At first glance, this appears to be a viable solution to restoring a bit of privacy. However, is it a good idea? Let’s examine the pros and cons of this solution.
Google Maps shows photos of homes and businesses around the world. You may have seen a car displaying the Google logo driving around your neighborhood taking pictures. These photos are added to their interactive mapping system. There is nothing illegal about this since we have no expectation of privacy in our front yard. However, many people disagree with that statement.
Co-Founder Note: If you’re looking to go beyond just how to blur your house on Google Maps, and want a legitimate way to disappear, we have developed How To Disappear: Ultimate Guide For The Modern Houdini. This should take you well past how to blur your house on Google Maps and into the realm of becoming a metaphorical ghost.
As Google learned, many citizens felt it an invasion of privacy or even trespassing. After Google’s launch of street view in 2007, citizens and politicians alike were unhappy with the idea that anyone, anywhere in the world, can just google their private residence and see what it looked like, where the windows were, how the driveway was laid out, and strategies to cause potential harm to yourselves and your loved ones.
Note from co-founder John Bourscheid: I love using Google Street View and Google Maps for determining the best strategies for how to find abandoned places (that is my article, too). However, I do understand the strong disadvantages that exist in bad actors being able to see exactly what your house looks like.
As the name suggests, Google Street View gives a view of your home or business, in any country or city, around the world, from the street.
The images are captured by roving compact cars equipped with very tall, 360-degree cameras, similar to the one shown here. Alternatively, individual photographers with camera ladened backpacks may go tromping down residential streets, dirt paths, and places where a Street View cr may not be able to traverse.
The service has been controversial since its inception. But there is something you can do about it if you don’t want your home featured from all angles for the world to see.
In 2008, the Minnesota suburb of North Oaks decided it did not want Google posting pictures of it online and threatened to cite Google for trespassing. Google voluntarily omitted the images. From the Star-Tribune article in 2008: “It’s not the hoity-toity folks trying to figure out how to keep the world away,” said Mayor Thomas Watson. “They really didn’t have any authorization to go on private property.”
The entire country of Germany objected as well. Google blurred license plates and faces that appeared in the photos but that was not enough for the German population. Google was forced to come up with a way to blur the pictures of the actual homes at the request of any citizen. The number of individual requests was so high, Google gave up. Now, street view shows a few photos that have not opted out but there will be no further updates from Germany. The article Why Germany is a blank spot on Google’s Street View from Big Think covers this in detail.
Photos of your private residence are just the tip of the iceberg. In 2010 Google was forced to admit that its street view vehicles – the ones circling your neighborhood capturing images – were secretly capturing data as well from any unencrypted wifi it came across. They had been collecting this data since 2007.
“Wow! How can I do that? I want to learn how to blur my house.” you may be thinking. “It sounds like a good idea.” But is it? Let’s look at the pros and cons of blurring the image of your home on Google Maps and Google Street View.
How to Blur Your House on Google Maps: Pros and Cons
Pros include increased privacy surrounding your home. Burglars or stalkers can get a close-up picture of your security cameras, gates, etc. just by clicking on Google maps.
Blurring your home’s image can help with that. However, this does not eliminate Google satellite photos or the pictures from other services such as Bing, Apple Maps, or Yandex. And don’t forget Zillow, Redfin, or any other real estate websites as well.
Cons include primarily, the request to blur your home is permanent. You may have difficulty selling your home in the future. Even with new owners, the request to blur stays with the home forever.
No future updates will be done on your home. And if your home is the only one in your neighborhood blurred, it may garner unwanted attention to your home, having the opposite effect than you intended. Maybe you just don’t want Google having an image of your home.
How To Blur Your House on Google Maps: A Step By Step Solution
Fortunately, there is an easy solution. Here’s what you do:
- Go to Google Maps and enter your home address.
- Enter into street view mode by dragging the small yellow human-shaped icon, found in the lower right-hand corner of your screen, onto the map in front of your house.
- With your house in the viewfinder, click on “Report A Problem” found in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.
- Center the red box on your home, and select “My Home” in the request for blurring field.
- Fill in the required field for the reason for the request (For example, you may cite privacy issues).
- Enter your email address and “submit”. They use a reCAPTCHA verification service, so click “I am not a robot” before submission.
- Check back to see when your request has been completed.
Most importantly, be certain this is what you want. Google will post a warning that this is permanent.
After you hit “submit”, you should receive an email from Google stating it’s “reviewing the image reported and will email you when your request is resolved.” They may follow up asking for more specific information about the area you want to be blurred. If they do, you will need to do the entire process again. That’s how it is done.
There is no information regarding the amount of time Google takes to process requests. After you complete your request on Google, go to Bing and repeat the remarkably similar process. After all, Microsoft should not get all the breaks.
How To Blur Your House on Bing
The same rules above apply for Bing. The process is quite similar as well. First, visit https://bing.com/maps, and then enter your home address, or the address that you would like to be blurred. Then, from the top of the Bing map, drag the blue icon that looks like a person onto your street in front of your home, very much like you would with a Google Street View yellow pin. This will open up Bing’s version of street view.
From there, rotate until your home is in clear view, then click on the question mark at the bottom-right portion of the screen. Click Report an Image Concern, then request that your home be blurred. It may take 24 hours or more to get a response, but check back to ensure that the process worked as planned.
Our Final Thoughts on How To Blur Your House On Google Maps (and More)
We believe everyone should have the right to privacy and if you want to eliminate your home from global viewing, follow the directions outlined above. You can also request the license plate on your vehicle be blurred or the face of anyone pictured therein. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to blur your house on Google Maps, Bing Maps, and more.
Looking for even more protection for your private and personal information? Don’t be afraid to get in touch with Removaly and see how we can help keep you and your loved ones safe from data brokers, people search sites, and other bad actors after your personal information. Get more information today!