StreetGhosts: The Lost Art of Privacy

In the online world we live in today, privacy is a major issue. Though most people go through out their day without blinking an eye when presented with “Click OK to Accept Our New Privacy Policy”. Our natural instinct these days it to just “press ok” and go on living our lives. But when we dig deeper and actually read the new privacy policies of most of these social networking/online platforms, we see that our rights as as users are slowly depleting. (See: Instagram’s New Private Policy Google is one of the main culprits in this conversation. Not only are they logging every single search you do but also taking pictures of people without their knowledge or permission and using them on their website. Google Street View is a very popular tool that gives you a birds eye view of an address you are looking for with great detail. There is no denying that Google really did something great here but when the Google van comes around, it takes pictures of whatever/whomever is in the view, without their permission.


Street Ghost is a project by Paolo CirioAs Paolo states on the website: “In this project, I exposed the specters of Google’s eternal realm of private, misappropriated data: the bodies of people captured by Google’s Street View cameras, whose ghostly, virtual presence I marked in Street Art fashion at the precise spot in the real world where they were photographed”


Street Ghosts places low resolution posters of people taken from Google Street View and places them right at the exact place where the photo was taken. Paolo uses the photo, with the Google watermark on them, and puts them in a lot of “Street Art Hall of Fames” in Berlin, NYC, London just to name a few.


Since Berlin is a hub of Street Art and Graffiti, a typical Berliner would probably not blink an eye at this type of paste up, especially were Paolo put this work. All along Dircksenstrasse in Berlin Mitte, you can see works for hundreds of different street artists and graffiti artists so seeing another paste up would probably not matter to most people but this project is very topical and very different.


With Berlin’s history, people having their photos taken without their permission is always a sensitive topic. And rightfully so. Less that 25 years ago, Berliners living in the East were spied on relentlessly by friends, neighbors, and even family members. (See: Stasi; Secret Police of the East – So it is very appropriate that Paolo brings his idea to a city that has this type of privacy history. In 2011, Germany brought a halt to Google Street View (See: But all the images taken prior to this ruling are still up. Google just will not expand or update any of the images. It begs to ask the question: Who is taking your picture without you knowing and what are they doing with this data?


You can follow Paolo’s fantastic, eery project here: