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Google StreetView Is In Your Driveway 439

Posted by Zonk
from the friendly-google-car dept.
hermit_crab writes "Janet and George McKee are the neighbors of the Borings, who we discussed yesterday as the couple suing Google over StreetView. The McKees own a house that is featured in a much more intrusive set of Google StreetView images. 'The Google car continued past the steps leading to the McKees's front door and came to a stop outside the house's three-car garage (and next to the family's trampoline and portable basketball rim). Taking photos all the time, the Google vehicle was squarely on private property, a fact that presumably should have been apparent when the gravel path became paved.' Unlike the Borings, the McKees have not announced intentions to sue Google, nor have they requested to have the images removed."
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Google StreetView Is In Your Driveway

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  • Gravel! Turn back! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:16PM (#23002334) Homepage Journal

    Taking photos all the time, the Google vehicle was squarely on private property, a fact that presumably should have been apparent when the gravel path became paved.

    Why should that be apparent? There are gravel public lanes (and even a road or two) in my city, and it never would have occurred to me that such a thing would automatically mean private property.

    • by everphilski (877346) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:20PM (#23002420) Journal
      Sure, I grew up on a gravel road, but my gravel public lanes never came complete with garage doors! [thesmokinggun.com].

      They were clearly and undeniably in the couples' driveway [thesmokinggun.com].
      • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:25PM (#23002496) Homepage Journal
        It looked to me like the Google van turned down a side street and realized too late that it was a private driveway. By the time they had turned around and gone out to the main road, their van had already captured the pictures. What the operators should have done is to erase the last N seconds worth of pictures from street view, but for some reason they didn't (do they even have the capability?).
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:33PM (#23002610)
          Perhaps Google should be reviewing the photos before putting them on their website, instead of assuming that all pictures are OK.

          It's pretty obvious that they were on someone's private driveway, and that they tried to turn around on someone's private property. Whoops, mistakes happen, but that's why you verify the results afterwards.
          • by amRadioHed (463061) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:07PM (#23003082)
            Obvious to you maybe after just read an article about it, but how obvious would it be to someone who just spent the past 7 hours staring at a slide show of strangers houses.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              That's not my problem - that's yours to deal with as the person potentially committing the infringement. Is that going to be your defense, "Well, hell, Your Honor, after a while, it all looks the same, you can't expect me to notice this kind of stuff, really, can you?"
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Kidbro (80868)
              Quite irrelevant.

              If they don't have procedures to care for the fact that their employess have been spending 7 hours staring at a slide show of strangers' houses, they damned well have no business taking those pictures.
              If you can not deal with the necessary fallout of your business practises, change business.
              As simple as that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CrazedWalrus (901897)
            It's probably cheaper to wait until someone complains and then remove it. Paying someone to review thousands of miles of Sunday driving gets expensive pretty quick.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by JJNess (1238668)
          Follow the progression of the pictures. They weren't just on a private road. They were in the driveway, pulled all the way up parallel the garage doors, then backed out. There is no way a driver couldn't have seen it was a private drive before he could peer inside the garage windows.

          Agreed with removing the pictures... the drivers should be able to turn off the camera, or at least log when they feel the pictures should be reviewed for removal (like when he says to himself "Oops, I'm in a driveway and pull

        • by plague3106 (71849)
          Ya, I'll buy that. They "obviously" couldn't have turned around any earlier, and HAD to go ALL the way up to the driveway doors. Ya, ok.
      • by earnest murderer (888716) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:43PM (#23002736)

        Sure, I grew up on a gravel road, but my gravel public lanes never came complete with garage doors! [thesmokinggun.com].

        They were clearly and undeniably in the couples' driveway [thesmokinggun.com].
        If it were a driveway, why would the city/county have given it a name?

        I think there's a lot of deniability there.
        • Not far from where I live there are large private developments. As you turn onto the road to go into them they have signs with the name, but nothing that directly states "private". They all have multiple private roads with distinct names but signs that obviously aren't put up by the town. But these houses have their mailing address as the private road name. Apparently these roads are private property, but you wouldn't know it unless you're from the area or are paying very close attention to details.

          I wo
          • by nguy (1207026)
            It doesn't matter whether it's private property, if it doesn't clearly and explicitly prohibit photography, you can take photographs; you don't need to ask for permission.

            Furthermore, property owners may not even be legally allowed to impose such restrictions; although these roads are privately owned, they are intended for unrestricted public access, which means that they may count as "public places" for the purpose of photography.
    • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:39PM (#23002688) Homepage
      Maybe they were lost. After all, it isn't as though they had access to any maps or anything.
    • Even if it's private property, so what? If a privately owned road doesn't tell you to keep out, you can enter. Furthermore, unless it's clearly and explicitly forbidden, you can take pictures on private property; you don't need to ask permission. And there are many forms of privately owned property where they owner can't forbid you to take pictures even if the want to. Finally, if a property runs up to you and tells you not to take pictures, all he can do is ask you to leave; he can't demand that you er
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I appreciate your sentiment, but please, as a person who makes a living as a photographer, ensure you're being accurate when you say these things - leaving out important caveats as I've previously mentioned, is not a good thing.

        Also curious, just what private property do you think is exempt from the owner imposing a condition of entry regarding photography? Cause that ain't so. Though you are right, you can be told to leave and must do so, and confiscation of your camera/destruction of imagery without cons

  • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:17PM (#23002352) Homepage Journal
    They have no right to be on private property.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)
      How about pictures like this? http://virtualglobetrotting.com/map/47331/ [virtualglobetrotting.com] Clearly private property...
    • by Sandbags (964742) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:39PM (#23002680) Journal
      1: it is assumed that a driveway can be reasonably used at will to turn a vehicle around.

      2: tresspassing is not automatic. In most states even when properly posted, you can still go onto private land and go up to the front door. Even salesman can ring bells at homes posted no soliciting in SC. The onyl poewr you have is to ask them to leave. It only becomes tresspassing if they refuse to or if they return later. Neither of these conditions happened.

      3: the proerty itself was not marked, posted, fenced with a gate, not in any other way abvious that is was private. I can't see in any of the pictures the van took where their so called private road sign exists, let alone complies with their state's laws concerning use of proper singage (including regionally accepted or universal images to assist those who can't read).

      4: all they had to do was ask for the images to be removed.

      5: the engineer in the vehicle has no control over the images being taken, not can he catalog or document them. This is ON PURPOSE to prevent tampering with the image feeds, and to keep the image recorder in sync with GPS information.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plague3106 (71849)
        1: it is assumed that a driveway can be reasonably used at will to turn a vehicle around.

        Please, cite PA state law which provides for this.

        2: tresspassing is not automatic. In most states even when properly posted, you can still go onto private land and go up to the front door. Even salesman can ring bells at homes posted no soliciting in SC. The onyl poewr you have is to ask them to leave. It only becomes tresspassing if they refuse to or if they return later. Neither of these conditions happened.

        http://me [aol.com]
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ShieldW0lf (601553)
          Signs, signs, everywhere signs
          Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind
          Do this, don't do that... can't you read the signs?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          As an aside, I prefer trespass not even require posting; unless you KNOW you have permission to be on a piece of property, you shouldn't be on it. You shouldn't be able to root around my car anymore than you should be able to root around on my property.
          And how would you know if a piece of property was public or not?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bryansix (761547)
        Right, Google didn't break any laws taking the photos but they can't use them legally. So the question is "Was Google asked to remove the photos?" and "Did Google comply with that request?".
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They have no right to be on private property.

      I used to hunt a lot when I was a kid. In the woods, if private property is not posted or marked in any way, while you can't hunt, you can still walk across the land and the owner has to notify you personally or by certified mail to stay off his land before you are considered to be trespassing. The land in question here was not marked as private in any way, as I understand things. Now, these laws change a lot by location, and I imagine that the laws of city of Pittsburgh are a lot different than those of

    • by AmaDaden (794446)
      According to their data it WAS public property. Google maps has their driveway marked as a road. For those of you who will comment on the mail box being on the end of the road as a signal that the road is a driveway should be aware that there are MANY small roads that have mailboxs on one end so that the mailman does not have to go down a difficult narrow road. And most of these roads are(Surprise!) dirt roads.

      Google has a lot of power so we should be keeping an eye on them, but this was a simple mistake
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:17PM (#23002356) Homepage
    ...for your driveway.
  • by geekoid (135745)
    They entered private property without permission. The owners of the property did nothing. or so the poster presumes.

    Why is this here? why would it be anywhere?

    surely you're not trying to draw a line between to different cases to prove some point against someone who wishes to persu their avenues, are you?
    Of course not, /. would never present anything s specious~
  • Intrusive??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:18PM (#23002372)
    Those are low-resolution photos of someone's driveway. Fume all your want, the outside of your house is not legally private. You may get upset by me standing on a public road and gawking at it for the whole day, but there is not anything you can do about that (unless I make any threatening comments about my future intent).

    Did people forget how to buy curtains?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PFI_Optix (936301)
      Gawking in my window from the public street is legal. Gawking in my window from my driveway/lawn/whatever is not. The difference? I own my driveway. The problem here is that Google employed an idiot driver who blindly followed the GPS, which apparently indicated that the street terminated around the garage. They *should have* recognized a clear property line at the concrete drive.
      • Re:Intrusive??? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sandbags (964742) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:43PM (#23002732) Journal
        Well, from the way the images depict it, the "road" he was on was a single lane gravel road, that according to his GPS, the map for which is from local city assessors offices, that was in fact a road. When he realized it ended in a driveway, he likely though to turn around in the nice concrete pad where it was convenient instead of trying to mull an 95 point K-turn with a big van on gravel roads with no shoulders...

        You likely would have done the same.

        The driver has no control of the cameras in the vehicle. He could not turn them off to do this maneuver.
      • Re:Intrusive??? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:52PM (#23002864)
        "They *should have* recognized a clear property line at the concrete drive."

        Bullshit. Roads go from paved to unpaved to paved all of the time. If they were really that concerned, they would have had a "Public Road Ends" sign put up. The driver was following a public map of a public road and went a few yards too far - $5 will get you $20 it happens to these folks all of the time, with people making wrong turns.

        These people haven't even asked Google to take it down - why are everyone ELSE's panties in a twist?
      • Gawking in my window from the public street is legal. Gawking in my window from my driveway/lawn/whatever is not. The difference? I own my driveway. The problem here is that Google employed an idiot driver who blindly followed the GPS, which apparently indicated that the street terminated around the garage. They *should have* recognized a clear property line at the concrete drive.

        While it's true that you can control whether people can take photographs while on your property, or enter your property for any r
    • You may get upset by me standing on a public road and gawking at it for the whole day, but there is not anything you can do about that

      It wasn't a public road. In one case it was a private road, in another case it was actually their driveway.

      I'm sure this isn't Google's normal operating procedure... both of these happened on the same day with the same van... but it seems clear to me that the guy driving the van made a mistake and it's in Google's best interests to correct it.
    • Those are low-resolution photos of someone's driveway.

      Correction: these are low-resolution photos taken from someones driveway [thesmokinggun.com], which is private property.
    • But the point is these weren't taken just from public property. The photos were taken while on private property. Big difference.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Actually, you can get into trouble for staring into someones home.
      Glancing in as you walk by is one thing, peeping is another.

      Privacy isn't black and white, it's several degrees of control and expectations.

      • Re:Intrusive??? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:22PM (#23003304) Homepage Journal
        This is actually an incredibly complicate issue.

        It is certainly not the case that somebody's driveway is sacrosanct territory, especially if it is the only approach to the house. What do you do if you're a vacuum salesman? You walk up the driveway and ring the bell. And, by the way, this means you can see into their windows. It doesn't mean you can stand in the bushes and peer into their windows; in that case you are considered to have intruded into the home's "curtilage", which is a vaguely defined region around parts of the house which is treated as almost equivalent to the interior.

        But the driveway is not curtilage, nor is the front walk. You certainly are entitled to the stray photons that enter your eye as you traverse the areas of the property that are not off limits.

        The legal doctrines covering privacy are, in the US at least, utter rubbish. What's more, patching the obvious problems with those doctrines only make them more confusing and imponderable. There's too much emphasis on disclosure as the significant even in any privacy situation. What you are entitled to see or hear, you are entitled to share, unless you have some kind of special legal duty to the parties you see or overhear. You are also, with certain restrictions and stipulations, entitled to record things your are entitled to perceive, and then to publish them.

        And that' what we've got here. Obviously, this is the kind of thing that shouldn't be allowed, although I don't think there should be huge damages paid out. But I wouldn't be surprised if Google doesn't win if this comes to court. The state of privacy law is such that it common sense has very predictive value for how a borderline situation like this is adjudicated. Of course common sense notions of privacy are utter rubbish too.

        The problem is that we're too concerned with the mechanics of disclosure and secret keeping. We're not concerned enough with personal autonomy.

        Suppose you are a collector of erotic art. Very tacky erotic art. You don't much care if the vacuum salesman heading up the walk catches a glimpse of the very prominent sculpture you have in your living room. Nor are you much concerned that he probably tells other salesmen about the crazy people who had a gold plated lingam eight feet high in their living room.

        But you might care if a potential employer could find that out by doing a Google search on your address. It's an issue of autonomy; you don't want people in a position to exercise power over you making decisions based on information that is irrelevant or which they don't understand.

        That's really the essential personal interest you have in your privacy, but it's not weighed at all in privacy law, except possibly as part of evaluating damages.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xPsi (851544) *
      Just because something isn't illegal doesn't mean it is reasonable to do it. A word of advice: be suspicious of someone loitering in front of one's house all day gawking at it. Double the suspicion if they are taking pictures. Quadruple the suspicion if they represent a company making money off of it. Someone can follow you around in your car all day long on public roads then blog about it. It's not illegal, but it doesn't mean you should tolerate it nor does it make their actions reasonable or accepta
  • by imstanny (722685) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:18PM (#23002374)
    Google maps has a feature that allows people to post pictures of various 'landscapes'. Streetview is bad enough, what if users start posting 'shower views'?
  • Opportunity (Score:5, Funny)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:19PM (#23002388) Journal
    Dear Mr and Mrs McKee,

    Your 15 minutes of fame are here. If you would like to capitalize on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I would suggest you contact our agency immediately. We have companies lined up, looking for advertising space, and if you act RIGHT NOW, we can offer you a lucrative advertising contract. We have excellent rates available for both rooftop and curtain based advertising.

    Sincerely,
    Marketing Scumbag
    • by xtracto (837672)
      Nothing like a Microsoft-braned trampoline and "Always Microsoft" wall paint in the house ;-)

      THat would be sweet.
  • tit for tat? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Davak (526912) * on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:19PM (#23002394) Homepage
    As much as I am not overly concerned about google's invasion of privacy (with street view)... I am unsure of the point of this article.

      Just because one person does not care if google is all up on their grill, this does not mean that other people shouldn't care.
  • You have got to be kidding. The people suing over invasion of their privacy are named "The Borings"?

    Do we need any more proof that there is an Intelligence behind the universe that amuses Itself by demonstrating that we are too obtuse to notice we're being mocked?
  • by zymano (581466) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:26PM (#23002508)
    Frivolous lawsuits hurt our economy and make lawyers $$$.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Let's not forget they also put a gun to peoples head and make them use their services.
  • I firmly believe that the line is crossed when they begin peering into your windows of your abode. At that point, it is an invasion of privacy. Unless there is a sign that is posted saying private drive, no trespass, then I don't think they really have a leg to stand on. More over; this still comes down to the basics of; "if you have nothing to hide, then what is the problem?"
    • More over; this still comes down to the basics of; "if you have nothing to hide, then what is the problem?"

      If you don't understand why "if you have nothing to hide, then what is the problem?" is a problem, then you really don't understand this issue.
      • by jskline (301574)
        Then in reality; what you are consequently saying is;

        "While you are crossing paths with my personal property, you must close your eyes and plug your ears. This is to protect my privacy."

        Is that about it?

        Me thinks this is turning into a contextually sensitive issue. We're in different contexts.
        • Wrong again.

          "While you are crossing paths with my personal property, you must close your eyes and plug your ears. This is to protect my privacy."
          You should not close your eyes and plug your ears, you shouldn't be there in the first place! The Google car very clearly drove onto private property where it was not allowed to go.
  • Here's my driveway [google.com] in Google StreetView. Note the license plate. Coverage of this house is very good. The highest resolution images are available in the aerials and in the street views. Plus it's a corner lot, and there's full coverage from both streets.

    This is from one of Google's earliest batches of images. I'm only a few miles from Google HQ, and they started by thoroughly covering the nearby areas.

    Big Google is watching You.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      You put your address on the internet associated with a slashdot account?

      I hope you didn't piss any crazy people off.
      • No kidding. The first thing I thought was "wow I live like 5 miles from this guy and damn, there must be a lot of ./ readers in silicon valley" I don't think I would post my address.

        But then, maybe he DOES piss off a lot of crazy people, it's just that the address he linked is of that asshole neighbor that's always running the leaf blower at 7am.

    • It's not trespassing until you tell me to get off your property and I refuse to leave. It is not illegal for me to walk onto property, only to stay once I am asked to leave. Entering the house is a different matter, and there are specific laws regarding that.

      Precedents?? How about the old door-to-door salesman?? How about a stranded motorist knocking on your door asking to use your phone? How about the annoying sales fliers I find tagged onto my front door all the time.

      It seems to me that unless you have
    • Your Slashdot handle is your license plate? That's fantastic.
    • Here's my driveway in Google StreetView. Note the license plate.
      Ha! Mod the parent up, please.

      I'm so damn jealous. ;)
  • to the google van to move on or not to take pictures, several shots were fired...

    Seriously, if I saw someone on my property taking pictures of my house, I'd call the cops... makes me wonder what happens when they meet someone who is unreasonable... best to stay off other people's property
  • How,

    Long do you think Google would permit someone to walk onto their campus and start shooting photos before security rushes over and "escorts" them away.

    And what would Google think if said person was using the new ultra-zoom whatever (think Google Earth) and began posting through the window photos of Google's whiteboard strategic planning meetings?

    I think Google might send out a lawyer letter or two themselves.

    It's obvious, Google hired a nitwit to drive the camera car around taking photos. That doesn't a
  • If it's such an obviously private street, why did this guy watch them drive down it and not say anything?

    Next door neighbor, watching them go down the 'obviously private' street [google.com].
  • Still there (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mzs (595629) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:43PM (#23002744)

    It's clear the driver needed to make a u-turn in the driveway. There should be an on-off button for the picture taking precisely for this. There should have been no pictures taken from the dirveway.

    Compare the difference between the street view [google.com] and the picture from the road at the county assessors [allegheny.pa.us].

    Frankly I am more concerned about all the info available in other ways. When I was looking into buying a distressed home from someone trying to flip it, I found the social security numbers in mortgage papers online with the county. They just scanned them and put them online. When we bought a different house, I made sure that lots of stuff was blacked-out before it was duplicated.

  • At least it was for these guys:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPgV6-gnQaE [youtube.com]
  • I think Google should draw the line between public/business addresses and residential (apartment buildings would be ok).

    When you have such detailed images of a lonely residential street, it opens up the opportunity for crime. Imagine a motivated burglar who can case a neighborhood from the safety and anonymity of his own home. He can make a detailed plan of where the best place to access a home is. He can assess their wealth and potential goodies. Sure, the burglar could drive up the street in his car, but
  • They named their driveway 'Goldenbrook Lane', so of course Google is going to assume it's public property.

    I don't know what the deal is with people who do that (mail delivery?), but it seems if you disguise your driveway as a public street things will get confused.

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