Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Privacy shmivacy

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 1:08 PM

google street view Imagine this: You're out in your yard, watering the lawn, and because it's a nice warm day, and because you live a mile-and-a-half down a private road festooned with "No Trespassing" signs, you're wearing nothing but your favorite underwear, which have these cute little pigs on ’em and are so totally comfy. Suddenly you hear the sound of a car approaching. The driver pulls up, snaps a few pictures of your house, capturing you in your skivvies in the process. Months later, you find the pictures displayed on a popular Web site for all the world to see. Is this criminal? An invasion of privacy? Apparently not, so long as the car's driver worked for Google.

At least, that's the way court battles have gone thus far in the assorted cases of Google Street View v. "Get the hell off my property" -- of which there appears to be at least one locally , according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat . Yesterday, a Pittsburgh couple had their case against Google dismissed on the grounds that the couple "failed to state a claim under any count." The couple, Aaron and Christine Boring (insert "too much time on their hands" joke here), had argued that by capturing images of their house, which sits beyond "private road" signs, Google caused them mental suffering and damaged the value of their home. They asked for the images to be removed from the Web and destroyed. Oh, and $25,000.

Last year, Humboldt County was the first rural area in the country to be given the Street View treatment -- which creates a really cool 360-degree panorama that can be viewed by anyone with Internet access. At least one local resident sued Google for invasion of privacy (check the PD story ), though simply asking them politely to remove the offending images might prove more effective. Last month Google did just that at the request of a Minnesota community. If you choose to get all litigious and shit, they'll play hardball. In response to the Borings' claim, Google said that in the age of satellite technology -- and I quote -- "complete privacy does not exist."

Just like that? Where was their polite request to us?

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Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns worked for the Journal from 2008 to 2013, covering a diverse mix of North Coast subjects, from education, politics and marijuana to human suspension, sex parties and amateur fight contests. He won awards for investigative reporting, feature stories and news coverage.

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