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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Google Street Views Tread On Private Property Again

Google Street View offers an up close and personal view of anyplace their cameras, mounted on cars, photographs, but some are becoming concerned after noticing that Google entered private property to obtain images, then put them on the Internet.
Google Street View can be accessed by going to, clicking the "maps" tab, then clicking the "street view" tab and you can drag the little man to anywhere on the map highlighted in blue and get an up close and personal view of the images.

As one can see from the video above , Google has overstepped by driving their camera mounted car onto private property that was clearly marked as such with a sign, and filming private homes.

This is causing concern for privacy proponents about how many other times Google has done this.

After dealing with prior criticisms over their Street View, Google did implement technology that would blur faces and license plate numbers but as shown in the video, the other concerns are still being spoken about.

The Press Democrat spoke to one woman, who lives on the private property that Google invaded for their images, Ms. Janet Tobin and she states, "I like my privacy, and this feels like an invasion of that. My friends already know how to get here. I don't need the whole world coming to my door."

This is not the first time this has happened as evidenced by Aaron and Christine Boring, who initiated a lawsuit against Google last April after having done the same thing and posting their home's photos to which they claimed was an invasion of privacy, devalued their property and caused them mental suffering.

Google removed them, but once online, the proverbial genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back as other sites download, then publish those images on other websites..

At the time Google claimed that there were tools on their site that the Borings could have utilized to have those images removed but the Boring's attorney, Dennis Moskal, said that wasn't the point. The point according to Moskal was that the Google team had driven onto private property therefore invading their privacy.

Now Google is in the news again for the same problem, but this does only mark the second time that has been discovered and according to Kurt Opsahl who is the senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, if these two incidents are isolated events it is not overly troublesome. He goes on to state, "But if this is only the tip of the iceberg, then with each additional incident it becomes more troubling."

According to Google, their policy is to gather photos of public roads and they assert they will take down images that were taken on private property.

This begs the question of whether those images taken on private property should have been taken in the first place?