Botswana not happy with Google Street View

It’s a story we’ve heard quite a few times; Google releases Street View in a new area, and people complain about it “compromising their security”. The most well-known example was in Germany, where thousands of people opted out and had their home/business blurred.
Street View imagery was recently released in Botswana and it’s been met with a similar (though less intense) reaction. In short:

“We feel such places as the military base and the office of the president, the American embassy and any other such high-security areas should not have been allowed to be published,” the Monitor newspaper opined in an editorial on Monday. “This compromises our security.”

You can read the full article for yourself on the Guardian website.
Disagreements aside, the imagery in Botswana is remarkable.


Check it out for yourself in Google Earth or Google Maps by simply searching for “Botswana” and then dropping pegman onto the map. If you’ve not done it in Google Earth before, here’s a quick video that shows how it works.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Micah Walton says:

    Thanks for the article. It says in it though that the Botswanan government is fine with Street View. Its just the newspaper writers for this particular newspaper that have a problem.
    That’s a really nice picture. I’m glad Botswana got street view. It’s a country that has undergone amazing economic increases compared to the other countries in that area.

  2. Micah Walton says:

    I don’t get it. What’s the problem.

  3. Thanks for posting. Remarkable imagery indeed!
    Regarding these disagreements, I have a couple stories to share. For many years, I made Street View style art installations. We often used film cameras and computer-controlled analog laserdiscs, but the results were essentially the same. I had the pleasure, and challenge, of filming in places ranging from exotic to everyday to endangered, and the installations were shown both “at home” and as traveling exhibits. Something remarkable and non-obvious could be observed: locals like their own local imagery. This was entirely obvious to anyone watching. Locals were animated, engaged, and well, proud.
    These findings parallel the lifetime work of Alan Lomax, the “man who recorded the world.” He once said “the incredible thing is that when you could play this material back to people, it changed everything for them.” I had the privilege of working with Alan on his Global Jukebox project and helped him get support from Apple and Interval, and am now helping his daughter Anna who runs his org. Last week they posted a lively uncut 1991 video interview of Alan by Charles Kuralt, a must-see for anyone interested in epic media and cultural dignity.
    IMHO Google would gain enormously from these stories, that a little bit of local public engagement would go a long way toward gaining the trust of a community. (I humbly offered some of my own suggestions and am sure there are others.) Oh, and Germany, where a quarter-million people chose to opt out of Street View, I know another story there: a public exhibit “tram view” in Karlsruhe, Germany, shot many years ago has been so popular that it was recently reshot to make a “then and now” exhibit. Again, a little bit of local public engagement can go a long way!

  4. Micah Walton says:

    Here is the response from the government on the whole issue.
    Seems they don’t have a problem at all.

  5. So let me get this straight. They claim their privacy is being compromised by Street View even though the images are static yet every day they drive pass hundreds of cameras tracking their every move.
    Not to mention things like On Star technology that tracks their motor vehicles in the name of safety and security.
    Am I the only one that sees the elephant in the room?

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