Naked man spotted on Google Street View

Joseph Bulmer

Nude sunbather caught unawares in back garden of Barnstaple home.

A NAKED North Devon man has been caught on camera on Google’s Street View.

The man, who appears to be sunbathing in the privacy of an enclosed back garden, has been spotted at an address in Barnstaple and, until this week, was available on the internet for all to see.

The image, which has been taken over a high garden wall, raises further privacy concerns over the internet map service.

When the Gazette visited the property, the wall was too high to see over, even from the opposite side of the road.

This suggests that if it wasn’t for a highly positioned camera, the man would have been shielded from view.

A female resident at the property denied any knowledge of the image and believed it was not her husband, who was not available to comment.

The Gazette has decided not to publish the image or the location to protect the man’s modesty.

Launched in 2007, the free Google service provides panoramic views of streets in cities, towns and villages all over the world.

Users can take a virtual 360-degree tour along featured streets and zoom in on homes and businesses along the way.

After the Gazette contacted Google for a comment, the offending image was removed within hours.

A spokesman said: “We take issues around inappropriate content in our products very seriously.

“We apologise for any inadvertent embarrassment and distress this may have caused.”

The spokesman also emphasised that users can report images such as this, and they will be removed or blurred immediately.

Google’s Street View has been criticised before, with critics arguing that the technology is an invasion of privacy.

The service was designed to help users explore places around the world, but some maintain that people should have been asked for permission to have their photograph taken.

The images were captured by a special car fitted with a 360-degree camera on the roof.

People’s faces and number plates are automatically blurred, but the image captured in Barnstaple leaves little to the imagination.