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Googernaut: What Privacy?

Have they finally put their foot in it?


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PITTSBURGH (Radsoft) -- A Pennsylvania couple have filed a complaint against Google for invasion of privacy. Google's Street View vehicles drove up to a road clearly marked as 'private property' and took photographs anyway.

'As residents living in a private road plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation of privacy', the complaint reads.

But the data thirsty Google don't really care. They've objected to the complaint on the grounds there's no such thing as privacy anymore.

Certainly not with the Google Googernaut continually in the picture.

Creepy is a Good Word

This isn't the first time Google have rankled. This June Google Big Brother vehicles invaded Santa Rosa and Sonoma, upsetting residents. 'I think 'creepy' is a good word', said Mike Ming whose rural home outside Occidental was photographed by Google in detail.

And on the same expedition Google were found to have entered private property in at least one instance to get their precious photographs.

Google's spy vehicles have a 360 degree camera mounted on an automobile roof. They capture images of schools, homes, tree forts, malls. They covered most of the roads from eastern Sonoma county to the Pacific Ocean and nearly all cities in between.

A year earlier Google spied in San Francisco, New York City, Denver, Las Vegas, and Miami - and took heat from privacy advocates. In response Google introduced a new technology to automatically blur faces and licence plates, something the EU are insisting on.

But on a road outside Freestone Google spies drove past a sign clearly marked 'no trespassing' to get their prize. 'I like my privacy and this feels like an invasion of that', said Freestone resident Janet Tobin. 'My friends already know how to get here. I don't need the whole world coming to my door.'

Indeed.

Other cities violated by the Googernaut include Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Guerneville, Cazadero, and Timber Cove.

Troubling

'This is not the first time this incident has come up', commented senior EFF solicitor Kurt Opsahl. 'But if this is only the tip of the iceberg then with each additional incident it becomes more troubling.'

'To be sure, the technology is incredibly cool. But it is also a voyeur's dream', comments Nathan Halverson of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Yes - fun for voyeurs and criminals both.

Accountability

The Pittsburgh couple are adamant Google have frivolously violated their integrity. 'The invasion of plaintiffs was substantial and highly offensive to a reasonable person. Revealing this information has caused plaintiffs mental suffering and diminished the value of their property', reads their complaint.

They've asked for a meagre $25000 in damages.

'Isn't litigation the only way to change a big business' conduct with the public?' asks solicitor Dennis Moskal. 'What happened to their accountability?'

Google Dismiss

But Google aren't having any of this privacy stuff. Their reply to the court was at once both dismissive and insulting. 'Today's satellite image technology means that even in today's desert complete privacy does not exist. In any event the plaintiffs live far away from the desert and are far from hermits', wrote the Google reps.

In other words: it doesn't matter there's a sign saying 'no trespassing'. And it certainly doesn't matter if you're offending people. The Google Googernaut must move on.

See Also
Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Smile, you're on Google
iTnews Australia: Google say complete privacy does not exist
iTnews Australia: Google sued for Street View privacy invasion

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