Google Maps criticised over personal infringement

News by Dan Raywood

Google has been criticised over its security measures when taking photos for its Google Maps function.

Google has been criticised over its security measures when taking photos for its Google Maps function.


Ken Boehm, chairman of the US National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has accused the search engine of ‘hypocrisy' over its stance on personal privacy, claiming that photos taken for the maps violate people. Boehm said: “Perhaps in Google's world privacy does not exist, but in the real world individual privacy is fundamentally important and is being chipped away bit by bit every day by companies like Google."


The assertion about privacy came in court papers Google filed in response to a lawsuit from Aaron and Christine Boring. The couple launched their legal action when images of their Pennsylvania home appeared on Street View.


According to the Borings, Google's ‘reckless conduct' in driving down a private road and publishing the photos caused "mental suffering" and hurt the value of their home and they are seeking damages of more than $25,000.


In its court documents, Google said: “Today's satellite-image technology means that even in today's desert, complete privacy does not exist. When plaintiffs discovered these images, rather than using the simple removal option Google affords, they sued Google for invasion of privacy, trespass, negligence and conversion. In any event, Plaintiffs live far from the desert and are far from hermits.” It responded to Boehm's claims by stating that it ‘takes privacy very seriously.'


Google removed the photos of the Boring home and swimming pool from Street View after the couple filed its lawsuit in April. The photo-mapping system uses cars fitted with cameras to catch images of real-world locations that are added to its online maps.


Further to this case, the NLPC has compiled a comprehensive amount of personal information on an unnamed Google executive in less than 30 minutes, with details of the licence plates of cars outside the individual's home, the landscaping company the exec uses and even the name of the next door neighbour's security company. The Centre used Google Street View and Google Earth to gather all the necessary information which it released publicly it said to “highlight the invasiveness of these technologies to individual privacy.”

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