August 04, 2008, 10:40 AM — Google has been accused of hypocrisy after the search engine defended its Street View tool by saying "complete privacy doesn't exist."
Street View, which has just been given the go-ahead in the U.K., is an add-on to Google Maps and Google Earth that offers photographs of streets and cities. However, many of the photos feature passers-by who have been caught unawares. This has lead to a number of privacy concerns and in some cases even lawsuits against Google.
Google's comments were filled in papers responding to legal proceedings started by U.S. couple Aaron and Christine Boring following the publication of images of their home on Street View. The pair claim Google's "reckless conduct has caused mental suffering" and decreased the value of their home. They are seeking damages of more than US$25,000.
Ken Boehm, chairman of the U.S. National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), said that "Google's hypocrisy is breathtaking."
"Perhaps in Google's world privacy does not exist," said Mr Boehm, "but in the real world individual privacy is fundamentally important and is being chipped away bit by bit every day by companies like Google."
Google issued a statement regarding its comments: "The response quotes and expands upon an existing legal opinion to help frame the response. It should not be interpreted as a blanket statement on our views towards privacy."