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Mr. and Mrs. Boring lose Google Street View tilt

Streisand Effect undoes privacy crusade

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Mr. and Mrs. Boring have lost their quixotic legal battle against Google's Orwellian attempt to spy on the entire planet.

Last April, Aaron and Christine Boring sued the ad broker for invasion of privacy after a Google spycar drove down their private driveway, snapped 360-degree, pan-and-zoomable photos of their home and swimming pool, and tossed them onto the interwebs.

With their suit, the Borings said the web giant's Street View operation had "caused them mental suffering and diminished the value of their property." But on Tuesday, a US District Court judge summarily dismissed the case, rejecting six separate claims from the now famous Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania couple.

Most notably, the Borings' suit claimed Intrusion in Seclusion. But in the end, the judge realized that the suit itself did far more to intrude their seclusion than Google's cameras. Rather than embrace the Streisand Effect, the court said, the couple could have simply asked Google to remove their house and swimming pool from the net.

"To reinforce the point that perhaps the plaintiffs didn't experience much harm, the court points out that the plaintiffs didn't take advantage of Google's opt-out procedure, plus they drew public attention to themselves by suing and by not redacting or suppressing their contact info in the court filings," says tech law blogger and Santa Clara University prof Eric Goldman.

"Plaintiffs bringing intrusion into seclusion lawsuits unavoidably thrust themselves into the public eye, whether they want to do so or not. This is especially true for anyone suing Google."

Famously, in fighting the Borings' suit, Google told the world that "even in today's desert, complete privacy does not exist." This is true. And Google is doing its best to ensure that your privacy is eroded even further.

But that doesn't mean the Borings ever had a case. We salute their ideology. But not their methods. ®

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