The New York Times on why Google Street View is different from previous forms of surveillance. I made just this point years ago in Omniveillance–it is the difference between voluntarily supplying information to the Interwebs, and going coming into reality and gathering it.
And lest we forget, if the information is put out there, and no steps are taken to protect it, its collection is perfectly legal–and I’m talking both about the identity of people, and the data:
The data collection, which took place over three years, was legal because the information was not encrypted, the F.C.C. ultimately determined.