With the recent introduction of Google’s Street View mapping service, many have been protesting saying that it is essentially an invasion of privacy.
Last April, a couple in Pittsburgh filed a complaint against Google claiming that the Street View feature violated their privacy because images were posted online of their home on a private road. In the lawsuit, the couple sought compensatory and punitive damages. The legal battle began when the couple discovered images of their home located on a private road on Google’s Street View service which began in 2007.
A District Court Judge who presides over the Western District of Pennsylvania has stated that the couple has not proven sufficient evidence to establish that they suffered any damages as a result of Google’s Street View service. The couple’s lawyer has not yet decided if they will attempt to overturn the ruling. Of course, Google was pleased with the outcome of this case.
In their defense, Google states that they respect individual privacy, and this is why details such as identifiable faces and license plates are deliberately blurred in their Street View mapping service. In addition, they provide a ‘report a concern’ link on each image page which allows users to request an image to be removed from its service.
The Judge who presided over the case was quick to point out that the Plaintiff did not take the available action to remove the images of their home from Google’s Street View, nor did they attempt to contact Google directly regarding the matter. Because of this, it was obvious that their “suffering” was less severe than what they claimed.
Of course, Google is no stranger to privacy debates. Due to the correlation of user privacy and Google’s use of its data, in September 2008, Google announced that they would reduce the amount of time they keep user data on file from 18 months down to 9 months.