A ruling issued Wednesday by Judge Amy Reynolds Hay in a Pennsylvania district court states that Google's Street View mapping service is not an invasion of privacy. Judge Reynolds has dismissed a lawsuit against the search giant and has denied a request for injunctive relief that sought to block Google from publishing Street View imagery.
The lawsuit was filed last year by Aaron and Christine Boring, who contend that Google violated their privacy when a Street View camera car drove past a "private road" sign in their driveway in order to take pictures of their house.
Judge Reynolds sided with Google and concluded that the Street View service doesn't meet the criteria for an unlawful intrusion. Case law precedents define an actionable intrusion as one that causes "mental suffering, shame, or humiliation to a person of ordinary sensibilities." Reynolds doesn't believe that sufficient evidence was provided to demonstrate that Street View can cause such damage.
"While it is easy to imagine that many whose property appears on Google's virtual maps resent the privacy implications, it is hard to believe that any—other than the most exquisitely sensitive—would suffer shame or humiliation. The Plaintiffs have not alleged facts to convince the Court otherwise," the Judge wrote in the decision.
The Judge also pointed out that the Borings have not taken steps to have the images removed from Street View through Google's opt-out process and have, in fact, decreased their own privacy by drawing attention to themselves with the lawsuit. They did not file the suit under seal, which would have minimized exposure.