Definitely something Orwell could have envisioned, Google Street View has once again found itself in a small spot of controversy in its ongoing surveillance efforts. This time, Street View, by chance, caught an unidentified French man, aged around fifty, urinating in his front-yard garden. Why, no one seems to know. The man apparently thought his closed gate would keep him hidden from view. But a Google Street View camera got him giraffe-neck style.
This incident took place back in November 2010. But the man just got the ball rolling in court on Thursday. It turns out that the micturating homeowner became the laughing stock of his small village of three-thousand in the Maine-et-Loire region, recognized by his co-villagers despite the face-blurring. The man is seeking 10,000 euros ($13,300) in damages for, I suppose, invasion of privacy. (Unless inadvertently making someone a laughingstock also constitutes a crime.)
The man's lawyer, Jean-Noel Bouillard, said:
"Everyone has the right to a decree of secrecy. In this particular case, it's more amusing than serious. But if he'd been caught kissing a woman other than his wife, he would have had the same issue."
Google Inc.'s Street View is currently doing their "business" in around thirty countries, available in France since 2008, allowing people to get some good intel on Google Maps. (You might recall last year's governmental debate in Israel over the wisdom of allowing Street View into the country, considering the obvious security risks.)
Google's lawyer is obviously seeking a null-and-void declaration, and we won't know the verdict until March 15. This is what's come of two Stanford science and math geeks tinkering in a garage, and it doesn't surprise me a bit. This particular case is on the sillier side, but it does have serious privacy implications.