Blurring out a plaintiff's face in a revealing Google Street View shot isn't enough, says a Montreal judge who ruled Google must pay just over $2,000 to a woman whose cleavage appeared in the photo published on Google Maps.
The plaintiff, Maria Pia Grillo, was sitting on her doorstep in a revealing top when one of Google's Street View cars came puttering along with its array of cameras. Along with a shot of her cleavage, the street car also photographed the license plate on Grillo's car.
"I have informed myself as to my rights concerning this situation through the Office of the Privacy Commissioners of Canada," stated Grillo in her complaint to Google. "Under the law my license plate should not appear. Moreover, from a safety and security standpoint, the information shown constitutes a total violation. This puts me, my house, my vehicle and my family members that I live with at the mercy of potential predators."
That was approximately five years ago and Grillo said the only response she got from Google came after she took the matter to court in 2011. Google blurred out Grillo's face in the image, but that wasn't enough and she said the damage had already been done.
"What surprised me the most was that the license plate on my truck was not blurred out," stated Grillo in her complaint. "I am appalled that a corporation of your magnitude is so terribly unaware of local privacy laws."
Grillo sought $45,000 CAD from Google, approximately $40,000 USD, after the image allegedly resulted in her being mocked by co-workers. The case's presiding judge ruled privacy isn't forfeited by being in a visible in public.
"In addition to malicious comments and humiliation she suffered at work, the plaintiff, in particular, has experienced a significant loss of personal modesty and dignity, two values that she held and are eminently respectable," stated the judge in his ruling.
Though the search engine company only had to shell out roughly $2,000 to put the issue to bed, plus court costs, it marks another legal loss for its Street View cars.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court shot down an appeal from Google in a case surrounding alleged violations of the Wiretap Act. Google's Street View cars are accused of intercepting data via Wi-Fi and the company had been trying to appeal a 2013 ruling that fined the company $7 million.
"As soon as we became aware of this problem, we grounded our Street View cars and segregated the data on our network, which we then disconnected to make it inaccessible," stated Google back in 2010. "We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and are currently reaching out to regulators in the relevant countries about how to quickly dispose of it."