Berlin court rules Street View doesn't invade privacy

The case stemmed from a woman who alleged Street View would violate her privacy

Google won a civil lawsuit in Germany lodged by a woman who contended its roving camera cars that shoot photographs for Street View violated her privacy.

The woman lost her case in a regional court on Sept. 13, 2010, then an appeal was turned down by a Berlin civil court of appeal on Oct. 25, 2010, said Ulrich Wimmer, spokesman for Berlin Civil Courts, on Tuesday. Documents from the case were just published last week on the city of Berlin's website, Wimmer said.

The woman contended that Google's Street View cars could possibly peer into her home and backyard, violating her privacy. She did not seek financial compensation but sought instead stop Google from taking photographs of her house.

But a three-judge panel on the court of appeal rejected those concerns, saying Street View image collection is not illegal and that Google allows people to request that images be blacked out of their properties.

The decision will not have an effect on Google's Street View program in Germany, where the company has faced a litany of complaints and scrutiny from regulators.

Google has settled issues with Hamburg's Data Protection Authority (DPA), which came to a 13-point agreement with the company over how it administers the program. The DPA questioned how the company retains data and how thoroughly it censors parts of images such as people's faces.

To satisfy regulators, the company allowed people in Germany to request that their properties be blurred before the Street View service went live, the only country where Google has allowed people to object beforehand.

In other countries, people can request their homes be blurred but only after the images have appeared publicly. Shortly after launching that option, Google said it received close to 250,000 opt-outs.

Johannes Caspar, head of the DPA, said on Tuesday that his agency has no current issues with Street View, but is still awaiting the results of an ongoing criminal investigation into Google's Wi-Fi data collection program by the Hamburg Prosecutor's Office.

The investigation, started in May 2010, centers around whether Google broke data protection laws when its Street View cars were not only taking photographs but also picking up data transmitted on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. That investigation continues, said Wilhelm Möllers, spokesman for the Hamburg Prosecutor's Office, on Tuesday.

The company halted the Wi-Fi program and said it was a mistake. Google subsequently faced investigation from regulators in many countries, including the U.S., South Korea, Germany, the U.K., Spain and France.

On Monday, France's National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) ordered Google must pay a fine of €100,000 (US$142,000) because of the Wi-Fi program.

While Google maintained that only fragmented data was collected, CNIL found it went much further: in one example, Google recorded the user name and password of someone logging into a site used to arrange sexual encounters with strangers, along with the person's location along a sparsely populated rural road north of the town of Carcasonne, France.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacyGooglelegalInternet-based applications and servicesCivil lawsuitsMaps

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?