Google Ignoring Trespassing Laws?

    August 25, 2008
    Chris Crum

You can hardly talk about Google Maps Street View without the issue of privacy coming up. There is no doubt  the feature is fun to play around with. It’s even useful for checking out trip destinations and landmark spotting, but it still tends to creep people out, particularly when they find their own house at such a close angle.

It doesn’t help Google’s cause when they are actually violating trespassing laws. A couple from Pittsburgh filed a suit against Google back in April for posting images of their home (which is located down a private access road) on Street View. Now there is an uproar in Sonoma and Humboldt Counties, California over the same issue. Google is being accused of driving down over 100 of these private roads in just one county.

Video from

Technically, Google is hiring local drivers to do their dirty work for them. Google spokesperson Larry Yu even told local paper the Press Democrat "Our policy is to not drive on private land." So is it the fault of these third party drivers? Google seems to have no problem posting the images obtained by them.

Google’s whole philosophy on the matter is that if you don’t like the images you see on Street View, report them, and then after review, they will decide if your beef is a legitimate one. If it is deemed so, they will take the necessary measures. In other words, simply opt-out.

But as David Chartier at Ars Technica writes, "In the real world, things like private roads and trespassing signs serve the same purpose as the tools Google provides for turning away its indexing robots; they are opt-out mechanisms from an earlier age."

That’s an age that Google seems to have left in the past.