Google Seems to Be Snooping Around Lower Greenville on a Super-Secret Mapping Project (Updated)

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On Monday afternoon, two homeowners in the Lower Greenville West Neighborhood Association grew alarmed when they spotted a team of a half dozen or so guys who were snapping pictures and trespassing on private property. The homeowners were suspicious and called 911. Later, they sent out an email blast to neighbors, urging them to keep an eye out for the men.

They claimed to be from Google, produced one tattered business card that did not reach a business line, and claimed they were on public property. In fact, we caught them redhanded in [a resident's] back yard, inside the fence ... all over his yard. We kept them there asking questions and getting information in order to allow the DPD element time to arrive. By this time, two of them had gotten nervous and bolted.

They told the DPD officers a somewhat different story after the officers arrived.

The officers took their information, and told them to leave. But the intruders told us earlier that they intended to continue their survey "to the north."

So, they are likely headed into Vickery Place, LGNA, Greenland Hills....

Get the word out to your people. These guys were WAY inside [one neighbor]'s property, not just a little bit. It's not legit.

Turns out, it might have been. The same neighbor sent out a followup email a while later saying he had spoken with Daniel Sedor, an absurdly young-looking program manager with Google Maps, who gave few details about what the men were doing but confirmed that they were doing research for Google. From the neighborhood email:

He told me that he understood (and that he, too, lives in an urban neighborhood). He told me he was the decision maker for this project, and that the individuals that John and I saw were provided by a third-party staffing company. He apologized for their demeanor, and for their lack of ID, and agreed it was reasonable for us to be concerned. He said he would terminate the remainder of the survey in our area, and we would not see these individuals again in any of our immediate cluster of neighborhoods.

So, we really don't know just what it is they were actually doing ... which still gives me some concern. However, it appears to be nefarious more at the 35,000-foot privacy level, not the immediate level criminal concern.

Reached on his cell phone, Sedor said he's familiar with the situation but referred questions to the email for Google's press office. "I think our PR team has a prepared statement about that." And surely the statement will provide full detail about Google's coming advances in mapping technology.

Update at 12:24 p.m.: As expected, the statement was full of detail. "I can confirm that these were Google contractors who were testing our location services," said company spokesman Nathan Tyler, "location services" being Google speak for tracking exactly where you are. Tyler said he couldn't speak to the specifics of what happened off Lower Greenville.

Like we said, super-secret.



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41 comments
EL-GOOG
EL-GOOG

You're an idiot for writing this article. No basis in fact whatsoever. I would know, I work there.

Lowest_Greenville
Lowest_Greenville

I was the person who originally spotted them.  They were not on public property.  There were five of them, all WAY inside my neighbor's fenced back yard, all over his property.  They were not dressed with any hint of being "Google."  Two of them bolted.  They were all nervous, and none of them would say what they were doing.  So, it was not just "taking photos from public property."  Not by a very long shot.

Bugs1
Bugs1

An ass kickin' is what they'll get on my property.  THEN I'll ask questions  and get answers.

Ann Barnes
Ann Barnes

OMG, Google takes pictures of people's houses! That's shocking!

Scott W. Hatfield
Scott W. Hatfield

jump my fence and meet my super-secret 9mm security system. the password will be "halt. what dumbass lies there?"

Ric Burney
Ric Burney

Everyone should casually moon them when ever they are spotted.

Karis Strannemar
Karis Strannemar

They were in Allen a few weeks ago. They send them out only on slow news days.

Ray Lek
Ray Lek

They're mapping out all the areas people hide to go pee after leaving the bar.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Not real smart messing around on private property here these days. This could have ended very badly for them.

Tami Walker
Tami Walker

We had several neighbors call the police because they were taking pictures in BACKYARDS!

Tyler Satchwell
Tyler Satchwell

I can hope it's for putting in google fiber.. but I know i'd be wrong.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

Avi Adelman versus Google Dudes. GO. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Google seems to think that it is acceptable to gather information without your consent on your web browsing.  I guess that for them physical gathering of information about your property while on your property without your consent is also acceptable.



everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Might be a lead survey for google fiber.  That would be nice.

steadfastmom
steadfastmom

@Tami Walker YIPES!  No reason for them to do that ever, at all!

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@Anna_Merlan Google Dudes by tapout due to suplex.  I think Avi's lost his juice, I mean there is a freaking Wal Mart literally across the street from his house. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Anna_Merlan google dudes, Avi would just go and try to buy the domain google.com and send emails from his new account representing himself as something else

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul As far as the web browsing goes, you give your consent when you agree to their terms of service.  Just because they don't put it in bold print, highlighted in yellow, with flashing banners on both sides to warn you doesn't me you are exempt from the terms.  Now, their intrusion into physical privacy with their mapping cars and drive-by wireless eavesdropping IS suspect and worth mentioning, along with this seemingly intrusive event.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@RTGolden1 Photographing your property from a public space is legal, protected, legit. Trespassing to photograph or gather information is not.

Gathering electronic information from a public space is unsettled territory.

titusgroan
titusgroan

Is Google Fiber better than Metamucil?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bmarvel @RTGolden1 I don't think the court cases stem from the photography, but from the intrusion onto private wifi networks from their little google-mobiles.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@RTGolden1  "they've gotten their asses kicked in every court case involving the Google Maps cars and invasion of privacy"

Need details, here. Every court case I know confirms the right to photograph virtually anything from public property.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@MStreetGal @RTGolden1 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul I'll admit I haven't read their terms of service word for word, but I have read it.  I saw nothing that gives them unfettered access to anything outside of their little internet feifdom.  Add that to the fact that they've gotten their asses kicked in every court case involving the Google Maps cars and invasion of privacy, and you've got the logic behind my assumption.

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