'Street View' Lawsuit Against Google Tossed Out

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit this week from a couple who contended that Google Inc. violated their right to privacy by posting photographs of their house online.

Aaron and Christine Boring of Franklin Park also claimed photos of their suburban Pittsburgh home on Google's "Street View" devalued their property and caused them mental suffering.

The Borings live on a long driveway labeled "Private Road" and alleged in the suit that Google would have had to access the road to take the pictures.

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In her ruling Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay said the couple did not prove their claims.

The Borings did not take reasonable steps to remove the pictures, did not prove mental suffering and "have not alleged a single fact supporting their contention that their property decreased in value," the judge ruled.

"While it is easy to imagine that many whose property appears on Google's virtual maps resent the privacy implications, it is hard to believe that any — other than the most exquisitely sensitive — would suffer shame or humiliation," Hays wrote.

Google said in a statement that it was pleased the suit was dismissed.

"Google respects individual privacy. We blur identifiable faces and license plates in Street View and we offer easy-to-use removal tools so users can decide for themselves whether or not they want a given image to appear in Street View. It is unfortunate the parties involved decided to pursue litigation instead of making use of these tools," the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said.

A message left for the Borings' attorney was not returned Wednesday.

Street View allows users to find street-level photos by clicking on a map. Google uses vehicles with mounted digital cameras to take pictures up and down the streets of major metropolitan areas.

The Borings' house is no longer viewable on Street View, but images of it can readily be found on the Internet.

According to the county Web site, the Borings paid $163,000 for the property. It's described as a 984-square-foot bungalow on less than two acres of land.

The county Web site does not mention the property's two detached garages and swimming pool, which are visible in the Google pictures and were mentioned in the lawsuit.