As soon as Google introduced Street View, the eye level photographs section, to Google Maps, there were accusations of privacy invasions and the encroachment of civil liberties. Now, a couple from Pittsburgh is suing Google in what could end up being an important test case.
The Boring couple, Aaron and Christine Boring (as far as I’m aware, that’s their real surname), are suing Google for invasion of privacy, accusing the company of an “intentional and/or grossly reckless invasion” of their privacy because their street is “clearly marked with a ‘Private Road’ sign.”
According to The Smoking Gun, the lawsuit case was filed in Allegheny County’s Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday.
The Borings claim they bought their Oakridge Lane property in late 2006 for a considerable amount of money in the hope that the private road setting would offer them the privacy that they desired.
Unfortunately that privacy didn’t last long as Pittsburgh was added to the Street View component of Google Maps last October, and a photo of their home immediately became available to people searching online.
The Borings allege that this caused a devaluing of their property, as well as mental suffering to them personally. The couple are seeking damages in excess of $25,000 and want a court order to force Google to destroy any images of their home.
I do have some sympathy for the couple, as there is certainly a case for arguing that the Street View feature is taking people’s privacy away. However, the chances are that no-one would have ever searched for the couple home had they not filed this lawsuit.
Now, not only is the case being reported around the World Wide Web on technology, privacy and dumb news story sites, but pictures of the couple’s home are also spreading like wildfire.
The Allegheny County’s Office of Property Assessments even includes a picture of the property on its site, so maybe the Borings should be suing them at the same time.
According to CNet, Google have responded to the claim by stating there is no merit in it:
“It is unfortunate litigation was chosen to address the concern because we have visible tools, such as a YouTube video to help people learn about image removal, and an easy-to-use process to facilitate any such request.”
This should be an interesting case to watch, but in the meantime, what are the chances that the Borings are going to have to move after they get hounded by the press and public, for bringing up this lawsuit in the first place?
Oh, the irony.