Couple Suing Google Maps For Private Residence Pictures

    April 4, 2008

We’ve heard all kinds of privacy concerns since Google Maps launched its Street View photos last May, most of which have had little legal merit. However, this week a new lawsuit about Street View images could change that.

Aaron and Christine Boring (yeah, seriously) of Pittsburgh, PA, are suing Google for posting images of their home which is located on a private road. The suit, filed Wednesday in Pennsylvania, asks for $25,000 in damages and the destruction of all photos of their home in all media (including film . . .). The suit does display a basic knowledge of the Street View program (other than the film part). It was filed on Wednesday (so this isn’t an April Fools’ joke).

What better way to protect your privacy, bought for “a considerable sum of money” (according to the Smoking Gun, records indicate that was $163,000), than to file a public record with the address and photographs of your private residence?

actual road signs at the end of Oakridge Ln, PittsburghBut seriously, there is some merit to some of their arguments. They claim that the private status of their road is “clearly marked.” I’m not sure which of the actual road signs from their road, pictured at right, is supposed to be the clearly marked one, but maybe it’s legible in person.

Perhaps best of all? The road numbering Google uses is so off that you actually can’t locate their house given their street address unless you know what you’re looking for.

However, the suit does get a bit more credible. It appears that Oakridge Ln terminates in the Borings’ private driveway. In the suit, they state that their property contains a 50-foot easement (presumably the road). So Google did, apparently, drive up their driveway and photograph their house, garage and pool. How this caused them $25,000 in damages remains to be demonstrated, of course.

But here’s one idea for a compromise: Google will destroy any photos taken from within fifty feet of the Boring house (ie on the Boring property). However, I’m not sure that just being on a private road, especially a portion not owned and controlled by the plaintiffs, constitutes an infringement of their privacy.

For images of the full court filing (and the Boring house), see The Smoking Gun. I didn’t include photos of the Boring house here because, well . . . they’re boring ;) .