Google Sued for Posting Pictures of Private House

Apr 7, 2008 • 10:20 am | comments (7) by twitter | Filed Under Other Google Topics

This weekend, there have been numerous reports about a couple in Western Pennsylvania that has sued Google for taking photographs of their home and displaying it on Google Street View. Aaron and Christine Boring are suing Google for violating their privacy and causing them mental distress.

Some photos of the boring house include the following three photos:

The Boring's House and Pool! The Boring's House (#2) The Boring's House!

The claim is that the photograph was taken from a driveway that was labeled "Private Road" and that Google did not acknowledge the Boring's right to privacy.

I've read reports about this all weekend, and a number of people have not found any signs that indicate that the drive is private. One person suspects that the sign was put up after the fact. A forum member echoes this sentiment:

If you look at the map and street views in question, it can be confusing as to where the road ends and where the private drive, if any, begins.

Further, members are a bit annoyed that the Borings never actually requested that Google take it down. Their first stop, it seems, was litigation.

As many folks say, what was the damage here? Google Street View shows images from thousands upon thousands of homes. Why does one family decide that their privacy is violated by starting a lawsuit against Google? Is this the way to handle private matters?

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.

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04/07/2008 03:39 pm

But of course,they're the borings and it's just a boring house.... they would go to litigation methods first... almost like this boring family is trying to cash in on their 15 minutes of fame..


04/07/2008 05:29 pm

Well i guess they need the money to fill up those 6 garages ;)

Michael Martinez

04/07/2008 06:41 pm

It's not like Google makes it easy to talk to anyone with any authority in their organization. If you ever try to call Google with an informal take down request they'll ask you whom you want to talk to. And if you do find out who you need to contact and go ahead and follow their tedious takedown procedures, you stand a very good chance of being added to "ChillingEffect.Org" - a bullying Web site used to humiliate privacy and intellectual property rights advocates by making them look like they are against freedom of speech (which -- under U.S. Law -- excludes violation of intellectual property rights and invasion of privacy). So the Borings may be just the kind of people Google needs to make it realize that its odious requirements are not helping people. For their part, Google did finally put up some instructions on their site showing how to file a DMCA request -- but that was after I had to chase down Google employees on their cell phones in order to get some clear instruction on what to do.

Jordan McCollum

04/07/2008 08:52 pm

From my reading of the filing, I assumed the entire road (~1000 ft) was a private road, though only the last 50 feet were controlled by the Borings.


04/07/2008 10:19 pm

regardless of a 'Private Drive' or not, what right does a SE have to take pictures of my house and show them to the world....Street View should ONLY be for public locations like businesses and parks.

Jordan McClements

04/08/2008 11:34 am

I agree 100% with last comment.

Jeffrey Friedl

04/08/2008 04:15 pm

To answer the question Phil posed, as to what right a search engine has to post photos of your house, I'll answer that in America, if your house is plainly visible from public land (or from private land whose owners have not restricted photography), the search engines -- just as any entity -- has every legal right to take and publish photos. One can argue whether it's morally right, but that's not relevant to whether it's legal. It is. Personally, I see nothing wrong with it morally, either. If it's plainly visible, it's plainly visible.

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