You would think that it is a simple request to ask for a bit of privacy when nature calls and you have no other option but to urinate outdoors. However, a man from a small rural village of about 3000 people in a northwest region of France found out that this was too much to ask of Google.
Now, the man is suing Google for making him a laughing stock and the subject of ceaseless ridicule. Google’s intrusive and controversial Street View service took the photo of the man urinating and published it on their website. After being made fun of by fellow villagers, he investigated what could be causing him so much grief.
He discovered a slightly blurred photo of himself on Google’s site as he was relieving himself on his property. Needless to say, he was absolutely mortified – and in a small village word sure does travel fast. The man says that despite the slight blurring of the photo, villagers were still able to recognize him. The man’s lawyer, Jean-Noel Bouillard, is quoted to have said:
“He discovered the existence of this photo after noticing that he had become an object of ridicule. My client lives in a tiny hamlet where everyone recognized him”
He went on to say that everybody should have the right to a degree of privacy, even in the outdoors. Google’s omnipresence online and offline the Internet is something that is rubbing many people the wrong way who feel that Google has absolutely no respect for the privacy of individuals.
The man was caught urinating in November 2010, from behind a close gate. But Google’s “All-Seeing Eye” ball was attached on top of their Street View equipped vehicles and has about nine cameras looking out in every direction as it records everything it sees. The All-Seeing Eye is designed to not miss a thing.
Google’s Street View service has been available in France since 2008 and was initially launched the year before in the United States. It isn’t the first time Google’s cameras have caught people in compromising situations. The cameras have caught women sunbathing in the nude, couples having sex, people naked through a window in their own home, and countless other examples of embarrassing moments in people’s lives.
In May 2010, it was revealed that Google’s Street View cars also collected unencrypted Wi-Fi data when the cars passed by houses and buildings. This caused major controversy for the company at the time and sparked an investigation.
France’s data privacy regulator imposed a record fine of €100,000 ($142,000) on Google last March for collecting private information while compiling photos for the service
Despite all this, when asked to comment on the Frenchman’s lawsuit, a lawyer for Google said that lawsuit against the company is “implausible“.
A French court is expected to make a judgment later this month.
For more information:
AFP, “Peeing Frenchman sues Google for making him ‘laughing stock’ ” – click here (article hosted on Google’s site)
Reuters, “Frenchman sues over Google Views urination photo” – click here