August 1, 2008
The headline practically says it all. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is being sued by a Pittsburgh couple for posting images of its house on the Internet in Google's Street Views pages. Google responded, in court no less, that complete privacy simply doesn't exist in today's world and the couple should stop crying about it.
Google may be right, in theory. It said in papers filed with the court, "Today's satellite image technology means that even in today's desert, complete privacy does not exist." That's partially true. With satellites, cameras and other monitoring devices all being tied together by the Internet, it is becoming more and more difficult to completely isolate yourself from view.
But does that mean our privacy should be violated by large corporations looking to provide better mapping software? Shouldn't there be some boundaries that aren't trampled in the name of a better product? Google said in the court papers that that doesn't matter, and implied the idea of privacy is somewhat faulted.
The "Plaintiffs live in the 21st century United States, where every step upon private property is not deemed by law to be an actionable trespass. Unless there is a clear expression such as a gate, fence, or 'keep out' sign indicating that the public is not permitted to enter, anyone may approach a home by a walkway, driveway, or any other route commonly used by visitors, without liability for trespass." Google says the Pittsburgh couple in question had no such signs, and therefore should not have any expectation for privacy.
I can see Google's point here, but for Google to come out and say that privacy doesn't exist is not a great publicity move for the company.