Judge dismisses Google lawsuit

February 19, 2009

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Hello everyone, it’s Reading Week break here at Emily Carr, so I have been taking some time off from my blog and been relaxing a bit – although relaxing probably isn’t the best way to describe yesterday as I went to CrossFit and got my ass and abs kicked by the workout! But here is an interesting read about Google Streets that I thought you guys would like to check out…
– FlashAddict

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By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Street View car, PA

Google’s Street View has been criticised on several occasions

A legal claim by a Pittsburgh couple that Google’s Street View feature violated their privacy has been thrown out by a federal judge.

Christine and Aaron Boring sued the search giant after photos of their home appeared on the free mapping program.

The couple accused Google of privacy violation, negligence, trespassing and unjust enrichment.

In her ruling, Judge Amy Reynolds Hay said the Borings “failed to state a claim under any count”.

“We are pleased the judge agreed the suit was without merit,” said Google in a statement to the BBC.

Street View displays street level, 360-degree photographs of areas taken by specially equipped Google vehicles.

Failure

The photographs at the centre of the lawsuit, launched last year, were taken at the foot of Mr and Mrs Boring’s driveway and shows their house, a pool area and detached garage. Signs marked the road as private.

The suit alleged that Google’s Street View had caused Mr and Mrs Boring “mental suffering” and diluted the value of their home.

Google conference

Google removed the offending pictures after the lawsuit was filed

“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,” Judge Amy Reynolds Hay of US District Court for Western Pennsylvania wrote in her 12-page decision.

The judge also suggested that the Borings’ lawsuit made it possible for more people than ever to view the picture of their home.

“The Borings do not dispute that they have allowed the relevant images to remain on Google Street View, despite the availability of a procedure for having them removed from view,” wrote Judge Reynolds Hay.

“Furthermore, they have failed to bar others’ access to the images by eliminating their address from the pleadings, or by filing this action under seal,” she said.

The publicity has actually perpetuated dissemination of the Borings’ name and location, and resulted in frequent re-publication of the Street View images, the judge concluded.

“The plaintiffs’ failure to take readily available steps to protect their own privacy and mitigate their alleged pain suggests to the Court that the intrusion and that their suffering were less severe than they contend,” wrote Judge Reynolds Hay.

The Borings had sought $25,000 (£17,700) in damages.

‘Removal tools’

Google said the company respects individual privacy and provides ways for that privacy to be maintained.

“We blur identifiable faces and licence plates in Street View and we offer easy-to-use removal tools so users can decided for themselves whether or not they want a given image to appear.

Street View

Photos of real world locations are tied to maps

“It is unfortunate the parties involved decided to pursue litigation instead of making use of these tools,” said Google in its statement.

Privacy concerns following the launch of Street View in 2007 prompted Google to start blurring faces of people caught in the photographs.

The company had argued earlier in response to the lawsuit that “today’s satellite-image technology means that even in today’s desert complete privacy does not exist.”

“Privacy claims are not easy to prove,” said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

“One of the challenges is showing what’s the damage, what’s the harm. But Google is more at risk here because there is always the possibility someone might prevail in one of these cases, so I don’t think the issue is resolved in terms of Google.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7898407.stm


Wednesday’s DIVA 200 class

October 10, 2008

Sorry that I have been lax in updating my blog, but I got food poisoning last Friday, which morphed into a lovely bouquet of influenza due to my immune system being shot to hell, so I have been a little under the weather of late.

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TROIKA + GLOWLAB

the cloud

tetris + knight rider on office building windows

– starbucks has the largest wireless cloud in the world – they are now an entertainment channel
– doing the same with internet connection as they did with music cds
– war chalking / war driving
– hobo culture / signs / graffity to communicate and warn one another
– marks on buildings to let people know where free internet access is around the city
– notion of privacy of how much of your life is public and how much is private
– google is keeping track of every single search that we do
– web crawler and cyber squatters flipping internet domains

drift.relay in san jose by glowlab
“information wants to be free” = guiding moto of open source movement
book called “The Long Tale” – by Chris Anderson who is the editor of Wired Magazine
– digital content (sitting on a hard drive) versus brick and mortar inventory in a store
– there will be a market for my work
– eventually you will be able to buy the license to a piece of content that you have already paid for (cd, dvd, blue-ray, next gen…)
– digital has transformed everything
– google is the single largest data mining enterprise in the world – save every search until 2038

– google knol – is this the precursor of the CIC (Central Intelligence Corporation – Snow Crash)?
– knol = unit of knowledge – go and get information and if you want more, you can pay for it
– Google is giving you information that they THINK you may want
– civil liberties = main concern: aggregation of personal data in commercial databases
– government databases are subject to privacy act
– commercial databases fall outside of privacy act, and the use of contractors has transformed law enforcement
– ChoicePoint or Seisint, aggregate data from commercial transactions with public records (prescriptions, groceries, travel plans, criminal records)

– potential for abuse
– concentrated target for hackers, identty thieves and authorities otherwise constrained by privacy act
– Seisint compiled a list of 120,000 based of a “terrorist quotient”, a profile they created including ethnicity and religious beliefs and handed it over to law enforcement
– Florida relied on ChoicePoint to identify convicted felons registered to vote – as many as 1 in 7 were wrongfully expunged from the voters list (voter margin in 2000 was 537 votes)

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification
– shock bracelets with EMD Technology (Electro-Muscular Disruption)

Privacy and Social Networks
Google’s Value Proposition – “is to figure out what people want, but to read our minds, they need to know a lot about us”
– will pull ads containing certain keywords, but will not state what those keywords are
– handed over user-records of Orkut to Brazilian government for an investigation
(orkut is a social networking service which is run by Google and named after its creator, an employee of Google – Orkut Büyükkökten. The service states that it was designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships.)
– censored and constrained its Chinese search-engine to gain access to that market
– the Chinese government is in the process of saving SKYPE messages that pass through mainland China and now SKYPE has ended their relationship with their Chinese affiliate

Google Streets – recorded some random kid who saw the Google van drive by and he ended up wiping out on his bike
“Don’t Be Evil”

Second Life Lawsuit
http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/005816.html

The Worst of Real Made Virtual
– the covenant of Extropia
– A Declaration of the Rights of Avatars – by Ralph Koster

189 Satellites that don’t officially exist (spy satellites CIA, KGB)
iridium satellite flashes – search when the satellite will flash on the web
– Russian town had 400 people show up in yellow raincoats and stood in the town square when the google satellite went overhead