Google has been trying to prohibit people from photographing their trade show booth at the Web 2.0 Expo. I’m getting really sick of all this. While this pales in comparison to the kind of photographer harassment I’ve whined about in the past, it does demonstrate a continuing odd attitude held by many toward photographers in public places. It’s one thing if you’re a badge-drunk sheriff’s deputy in San Antonio -but quite another for a forward-thinking technology company. It makes even less sense for a company that takes pictures of public streets and buildings and then makes them publicly available.
I can only assume this is a overzealous company employee gone a bit far on his five minutes of power – or maybe they’re just embarrassed about their booth, which does look like it stepped out of a Michelin commercial (h/t to someone on Digg for that comment.) I suppose it could be someone at O’Reilly or TechWeb (the conference producers) driving this, but I seriously doubt it.
I’d refer to Google’s comments in response to the privacy concerns raised about their Street View service:
“Street View only features imagery taken on public property … this imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street.”
I agree with Google, as does US case law, which says that in a public place one cannot have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” That means I can take pictures – even of your awful booth.
Guys – I love ya, but you’re wrong on this.
[Update: The company apparently has reversed course, according to Google engineer Bob Lee.]