Google Project Sunroof Opt-Out

      6 Comments on Google Project Sunroof Opt-Out

A little less than a year ago I published an article about Google Project Sunroof, what it means to off grid hams, and general observations about the initiative and its implications. You can read the original article here.

google project sunroofAt the time I could find no way to remove oneself from Google Project Sunroof. Since a majority of the country was not yet indexed it did not really matter, to most of us anyway. Now Google has vastly expanded the system. My home address was not included last year, now it it is. I know the data is old because it takes into account a tree I cut down nearly two years ago. Still, it’s obvious that that Google Project Sunroof has made quite a bit of progress with increasing the geographical coverage.

Off Grid Ham regular reader Brad was thoughtful enough to send in a tip on how to opt out of Project Sunroof. The exact click-by-click instructions he gave did not work for me on my Mac or on Windows (I did not see the links/icons he described). After looking all over to try and replicate his findings, I gave up. I don’t know…maybe Google is already onto me!

Luckily, Brad included a direct link to the opt out page and that did indeed work:

Click here to go directly to the Google Project Sunroof opt out page.

It takes several weeks for the change to take effect, and it’s not clear exactly what information will be suppressed. In my original article about Google Project Sunroof I expressed deep concern for privacy, especially those who live in less populated areas or whose solar panels cannot be seen from the road. With Google’s well-deserved reputation for being intrusive, those concerns are constantly project sunroof

It’s accurate to say there is no such thing as real privacy anymore. The easy way is to use that truism as an excuse not to even try. We all have to make our own decisions; I choose to not roll over and freely give it away. I have serious doubts about Google’s sincerity in using our personal data in an ethical manner, and their willingness to let people opt out. If you google “project sunroof opt out” you will not get a straight answer.

Special thanks to Off Grid Ham reader Brad for taking the time to pass this information along. As always, I encourage readers to send in questions, comments, and ideas. Many of the articles you see here are a direct product of reader input.

6 thoughts on “Google Project Sunroof Opt-Out

  1. Randall Krippner

    I remember your concerns about the sunroof project’s retention of the user’s data and I’m glad someone found a way to opt out and hopefully at least limit the exposure of your information.
    …Alas there seems to be no such thing as privacy any longer unless you try to live entirely off-line, something that is almost impossible these days. You can try to limit the exposure, but Google, facebook, Microsoft, etc. are so thoroughly enmeshed into the system that it’s impossible to avoid.

    1. Chris Warren Post author

      I’m not sure what opting out really gets you. But it’s there, so ok. Even if you live “entirely offline” you cannot have true control over your personal data because your banking, medical records, driving record, etc. are all electronic now. I’ve tried to explain this to my dad, who does not personally use the internet and has no deliberate digital footprint (such as Facebook, etc.), but somehow thinks that his driver’s license, military record (from decades ago), financial data, and medical history doesn’t count.

      1. randall krippner

        You’re right, of course. There’s no way to avoid leaving some kind of electronic records behind. Every bank and credit card transaction, every bill paid (whether by credit card or check), driver’s license data… all of it is out there whether you’ve entered the data yourself or not. As a former IT guy who used to write databases, I find the technology fascinating. As a consumer, it’s actually very scary. With access to the right sources of data and with the right analysis software you can describe an individual person completely; their likes and dislikes, where they go, what they do, even their state of mind. They are experimenting with software that attempts to predict how likely you are to commit a crime. China is experimenting with software that uses facial recognition technology to try to determine one’s mood and mental state and it’s in place in at least one school that I know of, and if the software claims you aren’t being attentive enough or are not in a “studious” state of mind you get disciplined. What it boils down to is there is no such thing as privacy any longer, and it’s going to get a lot worse.

        1. Chris Warren Post author

          One thing about the opt-out that I did not notice until after this article was posted is that to opt-out, you need to enter an exact street address. For most people this is fine, but if you live somewhere that does not have a street address, what do you do? I assume you’re just out of luck.

  2. Brad

    I’m concerned as the next individual about data privacy. Just trying to pass along seemingly useful information. Great blog!

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