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Is this cow a government informant? Google blurs bovine’s face in Street View

cow blurred face google street view screen shot 2016 09 20 at 11 44 21 am
Cows — they’re just like us!

That is to say, they deserve their privacy, too. At least, that appears to be the stance Google is taking, based on its decision to blur out the face of a cow on Google Street View. Because, hey, you never know who’s a government informant these days.

The Google service has always taken privacy pretty seriously, as it already blurs out license plates, people, and even some pieces of architecture. But this may be the first bovine to get special treatment (or rather, be treated the same).

Great to see Google takes cow privacy seriously

— David Shariatmadari (@D_Shariatmadari) September 13, 2016

Google’s decision was first noticed last week by the Guardian’s opinion lead David Shariatamadari, who tweeted, “Great to see Google takes cow privacy seriously,” alongside a photo of the blurred cow. The animal is seen chewing on grass near a river in Cambridge, England, and while you can certainly tell that it’s a cow, its face is definitely indistinguishable. The photo has since been retweeted nearly 13,000 times, and favorited over 16,000 times. It promptly racked up thousands of retweets and likes.

When the BBC pointed out the, er, interesting choice to blur the cow’s face, a Google spokesman responded with a rather cheeky (albeit surprised) series of puns.

“We thought you were pulling the udder one when we herd the moos, but it’s clear that our automatic face-blurring technology has been a little overzealous,” the spokesman said. “Of course, we don’t begrudge this cow milking its five minutes of fame.”

Alas, it doesn’t seem like the cow’s identity was completely protected, as another view of the river shows the animal’s face quite clearly as it grazes. But that particular image is a bit further away from the cow — apparently, it’s the close-up that made our four-legged friend a bit camera shy (or rather, made Google cautious).

Sadly, the cow in question couldn’t provide its take on the situation, but we’ll keep you posted should anything change.

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