December 4, 2010

Google Pays Couple $1 For Street View Trespassing

A Street View trespass case brought by a Pennsylvania couple against Google has ended with the Internet search giant admitting to illegally snapping photos of the couple's home, but it will only have to pay $1 to resolve the lawsuit.

Aaron and Christie Boring charged Google with violating their privacy by photographing their Pittsburgh home and swimming pool without permission. They said the home is on a street that is clearly marked as a "Private Road."

"Google could have just sent us an apology letter in the very beginning, but chose to try to prove they had a legal right to be on our land," the couple said in a statement. "We are glad they finally gave up."

Critics around the world say that the Street View service raises privacy concerns.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is probing whether Google's Street View collection, which used Wi-Fi, illegally gathered emails and other private data. Google insists the data collected was by accident. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dropped a similar probe into the company in October.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon in Pittsburgh on Thursday approved a consent judgment reached between the Borings and Google.

Gregg Zegarelli, an attorney for the Pittsburgh couple, said in an interview with Reuters that although the judgment reached was for only one dollar, "the goal was to get a concession of liability and an admission that Google was wrong."

"That's very significant as we go forward in the new world of technology. It also provides a foundation for legislation to correct pervasive social photography," he added.

"We are pleased that this lawsuit has finally ended with plaintiffs' acknowledgment that they are entitled to only $1," Google said in a statement.

The California-based Internet search company argued in court papers that it offers people the ability to remove unwanted images and that the view from the Borings' driveway was not private.

The case is Boring v Google Inc, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, No. 08-00694.


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