homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Become a Pro Member
Visit PubCon.com
Home / Forums Index / Google / Google Finance, Govt, Policy and Business Issues
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: goodroi

Google Finance, Govt, Policy and Business Issues Forum

Google Sued For Street View Privacy Breach
the road said "private" ... apparently

 11:34 am on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

...from AP/Yahoo! News ( yesterday )

The images must have been taken from the couple's long driveway, which is labeled "Private Road," and that violated their privacy, according to the complaint


Google spokesman Larry Yu said the site indicates that property owners can get the company to removed images if they cite a good reason and can prove they own the property depicted.

"We absolutely respect that people may not be comfortable with some of the imagery on the site," Yu said. "We actually make it pretty easy for people to submit a request to us to remove the imagery."

If the Borings made such a request - especially if they told Google its photos must have been shot from their driveway - Yu said he is confident the image would be removed.


They mean they break into someone's home, take a few pics, and then if the owner files a *request* that they *remove* the pictures and everything's settled right? ... heh... don't think so.

The couple's attorney, Dennis Moskal, said the point is that the Borings' privacy was invaded when the Google vehicle allegedly drove onto their property.

Removing the image won't undo that damage, nor will it deter the company from doing the same thing in the future, Moskal said.

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

Yu declined comment on the suit itself because the company was still reviewing it.


They sure should be held accountable.
I don't know who exactly, but someone.
Couple sues Google for posting house pix [news.yahoo.com]

[edited by: Miamacs at 11:35 am (utc) on April 5, 2008]



 9:19 am on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

The couple make perfect sense in protecting their privacy.

I see a solution here though. How about a board facing the sky, "Google, be aware, this is a private road". We can then perhaps call it robots.map.txt

[edited by: Habtom at 9:57 am (utc) on April 6, 2008]


 9:25 am on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure, but AFAIK Google is not actually making the pictures. They purchase the pictures and put them online for the rest of us to enjoy.
They actually point to the company making them in their copyright notice at the bottom of the view in map view mode (where you see the blue outlines)

Typical case of suing the company with a lot of money instead of suing the one that did do something wrong if you ask me, should be thrown out and not be given lots of publicity.

If all Google did was buy images in good faith and put them on-line, then all they can do to correct wrong doing is to take them off-line when notified. Those trespassing should be handled separately.


 12:29 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

This was not in reference to the overhead satellite shots, but rather to their street view, street level photos.

If you look at the map and street views in question, it can be confusing as to where the road ends and where the private drive, if any, begins.

What is worrysome here is that lawyers are starting to see that ambulances aren't the only thing worth chasing. First they'll go after big websites, then they will start going for the smaller sites just as sharks are attracted to blood.

Do we really need a damage claim of "25k MINIMUM". Did they try a simple letter to google requesting the pics be taken down? My guess is that the lawyer is one of the "I can get you MONEY" contingency fee types.

For the most part, photos taken from public roads can usually be published as long as there aren't identifiable people. (Google may have some trouble with that in the future since people are in many of the street level photos). The problem as I see it, is that there really aren't any standardized ways of marking private drives.

When I used to go hunting in PA, the rules for marking private fields were pretty standard. There had to be a "Posted" sign every so many feet at a certain height and of a certain style. You knew exactly what to look for and had no excuse if you trespassed.

With the current situation, you could get sued by some lawyer because of a weathered hand painted 'private' sign hidden under some bushes.

shakespeare Henry VI re lawyers..



 12:38 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Any how much privacy will the couple get now, by turning it into a major news story.

Every hic within 50 miles will now drive by the house, to see the idiots that are trying to sue Google, for something that is obviously in the public domain.


 1:55 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Any how much privacy will the couple get now

Good, well motivated folks often take on risks - in defense of rights - so others won't suffer worse consequences.

In the old days - about the 1990s - bad guys had to "case the joint" to plan their crimes. Bad guys had to drive to a potential target and take a look around. Such visits, by strangers or people acting suspiciously, often lead to the detection or deterrence of bad acts, especially when the bad guys were caught beforehand or identified after the fact.

Some day most break & entry artists, burglars, thieves, con men, stalkers or terrorists will begin planning their targets by identifying the easiest targets, with the best cover, and best escape/transport routes with the help of satellite images and ground images provided by Google.

Military bases are no longer subject to ground image capture by Google's teams. If those bases, with all their soldiers, guns and tanks are uneasy about their security being compromised by publicly - and globally - available images shouldn't you be concerned, too?

Nah. It will never happen to you.


 2:00 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

to those who didn't get it

the point is that Google is funding a minivan equipped with cameras in all angles, that take a snapshot every other second...

... and which minivan sometimes drives into private or otherwise restricted areas out of carelessness ( probably due to fatigue *heh* ).

They publish these photos automatically - as no one can monitor this much material - sometimes taken on *properties* where they do not have the right to photograph... let alone enter... ( btw the couple sues for trespassing - and not because of publishing the photos )

So far I see errors, but no evil.


But then I raised both eyebrows reading Google's comments on the issue, which was but a copy/paste reply ( their stance on illegal material found on websites they own e.g. YouTube ) also, their comment was missing the point by approx. 2 miles. They said that by allowing you to *ask them* to remove the illegal content, they are clear, so what's the big deal? Which legal claim might/might not be okay when it comes to user generated content ( let Viacom decide ) but... this is *theirs*

If the photos really were taken where the couple claims they were it's not only illegal, but has documented something illegal Google contract / affiliate / partner staff did. This content is something Google ( and/or its official partners for their own service ) produced.

And again: the couple isn't filing because of publishing the photos, but because of *trespassing and taking photos*. This is no aerial photo [en.wikipedia.org], for this the van allegedly needed to enter the property. You know... like people sue the paparazzi + the publishers the every other week. Like you'd sue if someone entered your backyard to take photos of your house ( and publish them ). Same privacy issue.

I wonder if Google saying 'oh, all you needed to do was ask us to take down the photos we took tresspassing on your property.' - would calm your nerves.

Google should reply with way more care, way more attention to the issue. They can't be like this. Not even when this big, or perhaps especially not when they're this big.

Their first comment was not only lame, it was alarming to me. It didn't even address the real issue, or perhaps tried to sweep it under the carpet.

Mind you if they said 'oops, sorry, our bad - we'll look into it', took down the pics, asked for forgiveness and mention that their van driver was probably just tired to notice the 'private road' sign - that'd suffice in *my* eyes. They could still pursue whether the van really did enter the property later, behind the scenes.


A single word 'sorry' would have spared them me posting this here.

No, it's their bossy attitude that bugged me.

For mistakes happen, and Street View is fun to browse, as long as it's street view.


[edited by: Miamacs at 2:02 pm (utc) on April 6, 2008]


 3:08 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

its about time, that some takes action google is just not respecting any Privacy rules, like we others have to obay with our sites, also EU is after them now with all there keeeping data of this and that.


 5:18 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Think of the possibilities. You purchase something with a check or credit card that makes it easy for the clerk to have your telephone number. The number is searched on Google to find the address and then Google Street view is used to see a recent picture of your home.

"My that's a nice home you have mam. And it looks like your daughter was wearing her red bikini and washing her car in the drive. Mind if I stop by and visit you ladies sometime soon?"


 6:08 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Settle out of court and fade back into mediocrity.


 6:10 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

It would be interesting if what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Can we google street level views of (Google President/Founders) Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, or Larry Page's homes?

I think not.

A few people remain total mysteries. For example, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page guard their privacy so closely that we only know that they probably live in Palo Alto, Calif. A Google spokesman would not comment on Brin or Page's homes.

But hey, some animals are more equal than others.


 6:55 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think Googles argument is pretty weak. Just because you clearly tell someone they can undo what you've done doesn't give you the right to do it.

Can I paint your car purple just because the store sells car cleaner? Maybe I watch your TV too? It has an off button if you don't want me to afterall.

Not the best examples but you get the idea. When you go poking around private property, you'll eventually pay the price. A method of removing images isn't sufficient warning OR permission imo.


 1:21 am on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

If this is such a good thing to do, then Google should start these initiatives with the homes and property of all Google employees. If it is good enough for Google employees and they are all comfortable with it, then maybe the public would be comfortable with it. Kinda like that guy who posts his social security number everywhere to promote the ID theft service his company has.

It should be opt-in, not opt-out. An individuals right to privacy should trump the desire of a corporation recklessly invade it and make it public.


 9:50 am on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

farmboy - right on the spot all this tracking/cameras is cool, but if you overdue this, it can be real dangerous, everyone can have a pick on your property or maybe even family, so perfect for cracy people and thiefs, the satellite view was ok, but not where they have pictures from plains and cars.

Skibum - its like a the gouvernours kids non of them are at war.


 10:42 am on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google is the "opt-out" company: first take something they consider "public domain" (e.g. website content - for their search engine, YouTube with its zillions of videos protected by copyright), and when folks complain, have them "opt-out" on an individual base.

I really like that someone actually sues them for this, and I hope they succeed.


 11:29 am on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Find a "map to the stars" and start street viewing around richy-rich parts of LA. It is funny how many blank spots in the bevery hills there are - someone should do a site about it.


 1:03 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Having someone take a picture from your property could be good reason to call the police and have them charged with trespassing but it hardly qualifies as a reason to make money.

Is Google evil because of this? No. This is one over zealous employee who made a mistake, or even just someone who didn't know better.

Regardless, trying to get a wind-wall for this is sad.

"Hey they must of been on our property, they should give us money."

What exactly are the damages here?!?!


 5:12 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, what about the fact the Google drives up homeowners driveways on private lanes to photograph their homes?

Not to mention, Google is working with the intelligence communities help with spying operations.

Google has been recruited by US intelligence agencies to help them better process and share information they gather about suspects.

Agencies such as the National Security Agency have bought servers on which Google-supplied search technology is used to process information gathered by networks of spies around the world.

Yes, Google is evil.

Warning: Google Is In Your Driveway!

[edited by: frontpage at 5:14 pm (utc) on April 7, 2008]


 5:12 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't know if Google sent a van near that couple.

But there are many companies out there making such images, even full length moving images where you can pan around 360degrees (moving images, so you can actually see what people on the streets actually do (such as jaywalking) See for an example "immersive media".

What google has online is nothing to what they have online (and the fun part: they use google maps to show where they have such movies)

Other companies capturing such data include teleatlas (who's mobile homes I've seen myself on the street)


 5:17 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

What exactly are the damages here?!?!

The damage is what happens if they have free licence to do this. How else does one go about trying to stop a large company other than by trying to hit them in the only place they might pay attention - the corporate warchest.


 6:22 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

skibum you can't sue based on what future damages to others COULD be and if that was the basis for the suit it would have to be class action for what you are saying to be the case.

To answer your question when a company breaks the law and you want to call attention to it and have it stopped out of community concern then you should call the police and pursued a charge. In this case, trespassing and you can their own pictures as proof.

But that wouldn't make them any money would it? It would get just as much attention in the media, but we know that isn't what they are really after.

What I am asking is.... What are the damages to the claimants? Did having a picture taken from their property damage them in some way? If so how? Or is it just a case of someone feels wronged and sees deep pockets and thinks they won the lottery and sues?

I think it is the latter.

Was a law broken? Yes and it should be dealt with and should not continue.

Do these people have a case or any actionable damages? No they don't.

Google seems to have made an honest mistake. These people are intentionally wasting tax dollars and court time with a frivolous lawsuit, which in my opinion makes them more evil then someone visually mapping a road from private property.

[edited by: Demaestro at 6:24 pm (utc) on April 7, 2008]


 8:01 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Actually, the trespass - if "innocent" (oblivious) - may not be a crime since criminal law often defines crimes by a requisite state of mind or "mens rea". Typically, criminal trespass will require an intentional act - a knowing entry upon non-public land with knowledge that that entry was unwelcome. (Notice the ubiquitous "No Trespassing" signs on farms where hunters are only welcome by invitation? That allows the farmers to pursue all remedies.) So, given the common requirements of criminal law, I would not jump to the conclusion that the "right remedy" is to seek criminal sanctions - which also tend to require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. ("Gee, we didn't see the sign!" Now, prove that we did.)

Trespass is one of the oldest and most well known "torts". It is one of the first legal issues a "freshman" law student encounters. In the establishment of "property rights" trespass has played an important roll. Ask yourself this: Exactly what does the concept "property rights" mean IF anyone can come upon your property for whatever purpose they choose? Freedom from trespass is essential to the meaningful existence of "property". Trespass is one of the greatest threats to property rights, which is why there are not only civil remedies but criminal remedies for unlawful entry upon the property of another. It is the existence of strong, clearly defined and enforceable property rights that has enabled civil, democratic and capitalistic societies to thrive.

And, you sir, propose to pooh-pooh a man's property rights, minimize the righteousness of his sense of grievance for offense to those rights and you would impair his right to enforce those rights? :-P

Trespass is somewhat analogous to battery - a non-consensual physical contact - contact that doesn't necessarily mean "punching". Many forms of touching constitute a "battery": from surgery that removes the wrong limb to a shove.

Maybe you don't get trespass - an unlawful entry or "touching" - and its fundamental importance to the idea of "property rights". However, I assume you would be outraged if someone placed a hand upon your wife's or daughter's or sister's or mother's buttocks, not because you view them as "your property" but because you believe in certain principals of physical sanctity. Well, folks are allowed to have feelings of physical sanctity when it comes to their land, too. And, by comparison, my wife's buttocks may not be "damaged" by an uninvited touching but her sense and mine of the sanctity and privacy "of her property = her body" may nonetheless be harmed or damaged.

In this case Google's agents/servants/contractors trespassed (entered lands against posted notice) for the express purpose of making public that which the landowner clearly desired to keep private. So we are dealing not only with trespass but with the invasion of the landowner's privacy. No just the "simple" invasion of their privacy BUT an act calculated to enable the world at large to participate in that invasion - that seeing and knowledge of what was meant to be private.

Don't you think it's quite something for me to tread upon your land and invade your privacy for the purpose of making your private interests a matter of global public knowledge - for profit?

I think the measure of damages ought to reflect the degree to which private matters have been made public, in this case by the trespass. It would be one thing for me to show the picture to your nosey neighbors. I would be quite another for me to show that picture to anyone and everyone on the planet - which is the business model of Google. So, yes, I think the damages should correspond to the degree to which private matters have been made public. A photo in the front window of the local barber shop? $300. Only a few people saw it.

A photo that the whole world can see, whether seen or not?

More than $300, especially if you view "keeping things private" as an important element of your property's value to you and as an element of your sense of personal security.

What's your sense of personal security worth?

[edited by: Webwork at 8:35 pm (utc) on April 7, 2008]


 8:37 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think the measure of damages ought to reflect the degree to which private matters have been made public, in this case by the trespass. It would be one thing for me to show the picture to your nosey neighbors. I would be quite another for me to show that picture to anyone and everyone on the planet - which is the business model of Google. So, yes, I think the damages should correspond to the degree to which private matters have been made public.

Well considering the Realtors' website has a picture of the land and house along with full dimensions and details about property specifics then NOTHING private has been made public.

Granted the Realtor picture was taken legally, It does destroy any claim that somehow Google's picture has "outed" the house and robbed them of "privacy" and "damaged" the property value. If it was the only picture of the house online I could see it but it isn't.

It is complete nonsense. Paint it anyway you want.. these people have NO damages and are suing for them.

Are they using the courts to redress justifiable grievances that can't otherwise be settled? ...Or are they trying to extort money from a company with deep pockets? Are the lawyers involved champions of justice and a noble cause? ...Or are they helping to abuse the system in the name of getting a piece of the action?

I know what I think.

[edited by: Demaestro at 8:45 pm (utc) on April 7, 2008]


 8:55 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I believe what you call a "realtor's website" was actually the website of the county government's tax assessment office.

One can't keep the government off one's property as property taxes and property tax assessments are inseparable from property ownership. That a government can enter property and take photographs for a public purpose - setting tax rates - doesn't answer whether that government should be putting one's personal information online. I suspect the necessary and unnecessary publication of personal information will be a matter of public debate and legislation for some time, especially as people awaken to the effects of the publication of personal information to the WWW.

My guess is that the public will eventually revolt from the ceaseless "publication" of their personal business. Social assent to a government imposed obligation to provide information to that government shouldn't be taken as a societal license to that government to publish our personally identifiable information to the world at large, via the WWW.

Google isn't the government but, in a society that once envisioned endless invasions of government into personal privacy, Google is a suitable surrogate for 1984's "Big Brother".

[edited by: Webwork at 9:16 pm (utc) on April 7, 2008]


 9:31 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

We're both reasonble folk, Demaestro. I'm not saying a jury award of nominal damages would be shocking. :)

was already a picture online for all to see, thus negating any claims of damages that could be held against G

If Google merely republished the same image I might be inclined to agree, but any image that conveys new "information" - say the location of a security camera not shown in the earlier photo - is a different matter.

I imagine Google didn't want to republish the existing image because of a potential copyright infringement claim.

Hey, speaking of copyright claims, are you aware that if you violate my copyright - my "~property rights" - to an article that was actually filed with the Copyright Office that I am then able to sue you for statutory damages of $100,000. - absent the proof of actual damages?

"Geesh! It's just a silly 500 word article. I took it down. No one suffered, much! $100,000.00 for a single "simple act" of copyright infringement!"

What does that tell you about the value of intangibles and property rights?


 9:52 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Web, the post you quoted of mine is gone :(

I get what you are saying but still with that logic then every time someone feels wronged they should sue. (but only if the person wronging them has money otherwise no lawyer will take it.)

I wonder would their response be the same if it was a poor student photographer who took it for a school project and posted it on the school's website? I doubt it. Only because they saw deep pockets they went this route.

Are they using the courts to redress justifiable grievances that can't otherwise be settled? I don't think so.

But yes Web we are both very reasonable folk. I am just over the litigious nature of some. But I agree with you about the fringes of our privacy being folded back, I just don't see this as a champion to that cause. It just looks like greed to me.


 1:58 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Unless the images showed the *inside* of the home through the windows I don't see how this is a violation of privacy. If you put your house on a curb in Anytown, USA, people will see it. They may even take pictures of it if, say, their kids are playing in the street and the house just happens to be in the frame. Bottom line is that anything in a picture that is also visible to the general public should not be considered an invasion of privacy. Let's say my neighbors film little Timmy riding his bike and fall flat on his face close to my driveway. That's quite funny, so they decide to upload it to Youtube for the world to see. Should I sue Youtube?

Look, they saw Google, and they saw big dollar signs and called their lawyer, who is certainly going to jump on this. That's a career maker.

[edited by: encyclo at 12:23 am (utc) on April 12, 2008]

Global Options:
 top home search open messages active posts  

Home / Forums Index / Google / Google Finance, Govt, Policy and Business Issues
rss feed

All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
© Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved