NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc admitted to trespassing, but will pay just $1 to resolve a lawsuit over its use of photos of a couple’s Pennsylvania home for its Street View mapping service.
The agreement ends a case brought by Aaron and Christine Boring, who said the Internet search company violated their privacy by photographing their Pittsburgh home and swimming pool without their permission. They said the home sits on a street clearly marked “Private Road.”
“Google could have just sent us an apology letter in the very beginning, but chose to try to prove they had a legal right to be on our land,” the couple said in a statement. “We are glad they finally gave up.”
Critics in many countries say the three-year-old Street View service, which gives users panoramic views of roads, homes and businesses, raises privacy concerns.
The Federal Communications Commission is examining whether Google’s collection through its WiFi-equipped Street View cars of emails and other private data was illegal. Google has called such collection a mistake. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission dropped its own probe in October.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon in Pittsburgh approved on Thursday a consent judgment reached between the Borings and the Internet company.
Although the judgment was for only $1, “the goal was to get a concession of liability and an admission that Google was wrong,” Gregg Zegarelli, a lawyer for the couple, said in an interview. “That’s very significant as we go forward in the new world of technology. It also provides a foundation for legislation to correct pervasive social photography.”
Google said in a statement: “We are pleased that this lawsuit has finally ended with plaintiffs’ acknowledgment that they are entitled to only $1.”
The Mountain View, California-based company had argued in court papers that it offers people the ability to remove unwanted images and that the view from the Borings’ driveway was not private.
The case is Boring v Google Inc, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, No. 08-00694.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; additional reporting by Liana Balinsky-Baker; editing by Andre Grenon