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Google: 'Even in the desert, privacy does not exist'

Defends Street View, scoffs at The Borings

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As Google's government-approved spycar fleet drives across the UK, doing its best to photograph every inch of the country, the search giant cum global menace has told the world that "even in today's desert, complete privacy does not exist."

Back in April, we told you the tale of Mr. and Mrs. Boring, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania couple that sued Google in federal court after pan-and-zoomable pics of their swimming pool turned up on Google Street View.

The Borings claim that a Google spycar appeared on their private road without proper authorization. Insisting this private road is tagged with a "Private Road, No Trespassing" sign, they call Google's behavior "an intentional and/or grossly reckless invasion of...seclusion."

Well, Google has now filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, and in defending Street View, it cites the Restatement of Torts, a legal guideline from the American Law Institute: "Complete privacy does not exist in this world except in a desert, and anyone who is not a hermit must expect and endure the ordinary incidents of the community life of which he is a part," the Restatement says.

Then Google goes a step further: "Today's satellite-image technology means that even in today's desert, complete privacy does not exist."

In any event, the Borings live far from the desert, Google says, and it has every right to photograph their home. "Although they live on a privately maintained road, the road is shared by several neighbors and there is nothing around their home intended to prevent the occasional entry by a stranger onto their driveway," the motion continues. "There is no gate, no 'keep out' sign, nor watch guard standing watch."

Er, the Borings do claim a "Private Road, No Trespassing" sign. But Google dismisses this too. "Plaintiff's allegation of a 'private road' sign at the top of their street standing alone is insufficient to negate Google's privileged and trivial entry upon Plaintiff's property."

The search giant also returns to the satellite argument. "There is no fence surrounding the property, nor is it located where the yard that cannot be seen by satellite or low-flying aircraft." So, if Google can put an aerial photo of your swimming pool on Google Earth, it can put a closeup on Google Street View. ®

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