back to article Mr. and Mrs. Boring sue Google over Street View pics

A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania couple has sued Google for invasion of privacy, accusing the world's largest search engine of photographing their swimming pool and posting it to the web. Aaron and Christine Boring claim that in offering 360-degree panoramic pics of their private residence via Google Street View, the web giant has " …


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  1. Silo Spen


    Surely that's a false name? If I was the judge I would have serious difficulty not making jokes in court.

  2. Chris Davies
    Paris Hilton

    Made it worse

    Before my daily infusion of El Reg, I did not even know that these Boring people existed. Now they are plastered all over the web. It seems like they have just made it a lot worse for themselves.

    Paris coz she loves to be filmed.

  3. Chris Davies

    Funny Name

    They got the name right.. Boring. They are probably looking for a way to make some more "substantial amounts of money". If they want their property hidden, just ask for it to be blacked out.

    Mines the one with the hidden camera & the arm bands.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot? No permission?

    In the UK, film companies and professional photographers have to jump through legal hoops when it comes to obtaining permission to film private property and individuals. Will Google be treated any differently here? If so, on what grounds?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a hideous house

    Looking at the pics on the smoking gun, I think the Borings (very apt name) should consider suing their estate agent if they paid a "substantial" amount of money for that house. It looks like a Port-a-Cabin!

  6. John Colby

    You didn't make up their name, did you?

    No, of course you wouldn't.

    And somehow, reading the original, I think the term 'considerable' is relative.

  7. Fox

    Boring by name...

    You couldn't make this stuff up! lmao

    Don't think much of their lawn. Heck! wonder they're embarrassed!

  8. M Brown

    Sorry for this but

    Who would want to watch a Boring family?

    No need for coat, it's almost summer

  9. Anonymous Coward

    This was...

    ...a boring article.

  10. Paul Talbot


    "caused them mental suffering and diminished the value of their property."

    If people being able to see the property and it's surrounding location is this big a problem for its value, there's something else wrong...

  11. Rick


    apparently this couple has never heard of a fence?? from what I can see there was no invasion of privacy....what a "Boring" case this is going to be...

  12. ImaGnuber


    Looked at google streetview for the first time today and I must admit I find it both interesting and a bit creepy . I can't imagine what it's like to live in Britain where government streetview is live all the time (even if only available to authorities).

    I don't like anyone reading over my shoulder - don't know how I would react to someone living over my shoulder. I'm strong on law and order etc. but that might exceed my limit.

    I'm off onto our relatively surveillance-free streets. My sympathies to all of you over there.

  13. Peter
    Thumb Down

    Another boring lawsuit?

    How boring, here we have another Boring lawsuit... Hey, Ma, we can get rich, just like winning the lottery--we'll sue Google. Stupid people, corrupt lawyers... If the image was an invasion of privacy, filing the lawsuit was several orders of magnitude worse!

    Dumb, dumb dumb!

  14. Anonymous Coward


    They are going to love the services of Phorm when they come to USA.

  15. AListair

    nice pool

    if "a major component of their purchase decision was a desire for privacy" then perhaps could I recommend buying a house with perhaps some sort of wall, fence or hedge.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    And who can blame them?

    Not me.

    There's enough intrusive CCTV going on in the world as it is.

    Everyone has the right to be boring. Hell you guys should know this better than anyone ...... after all you do work in IT and it doesn't get more boring than that!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Courts and Privecy dis-advantage

    As we all know, if want to have privacy the first place you go is to court.

    Having all those private document mentioned on the public recorded.


  18. Dazzer

    On the fence...

    Half way through the article I was thinking they don't have a case if anyone can see their property from the street but if the Google folk actually went down what was clearly marked as a private road, took photos and then published them on the web then good luck to them. I wouldn't be happy if it happened to me either.

  19. Will Leamon

    I guess

    A man's home is not his castle anymore given the tone of this article. But I for one applaud the Borings. Google can do whatever it likes within the law but when they start trespassing to move more ads someone has to draw the line.

    Street view is a gee-whiz feature but is it really worth all this?

  20. Paul M.

    So they deserved it?

    What's with the smirk, Cade? Yes, they're called Boring. I'm falling off my chair laughing.

    But the subtext of the article is that they deserved it. Why? Because they live in Pittsburgh? Because they're rich? Because they've got a funny name?

    Once we make privacy conditional on an eligability contest (rules to be decided by Mr Metz), we have no privacy at all.

  21. Scott Silver badge

    The Streisand Effect

    Before they set this case in motion, their lawyer should have told them what happened to Barbara Streisand when she did this sort of thing...

  22. Adrian Crooks

    Hmmm.. tough one

    Normally if someone can walk down the road and see your property plainly without any vision augmentation gear I would say "tough" deal with it. In this case if you check out the pictures it seems almost like they drove up on to the property to take pictures. Perhaps there is some argument to the "private road" issue, so I won't dub the Borings as money grubbing scum quite yet.

    Also if they do win, I'm not so sure that 25K is really reasonable... though considering the cost of a good (*cough*) lawyer, that amount may be just enough to break even.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Let's all laugh at the Slobs

    I live within 10 miles of them, actually $163,000 is a pretty hefty sum of money for a property in this area (My 4 bedroom house, nothing special but no slum, was paid for AND revamped simply by selling my run down flat back in the UK, in Sunderland of all places).

    Let's be honest. My instinct is that there was no private road sign, though I bet there's one there now. However if I'm wrong and it was there, then it really is an invasion of privacy. If they own the road and have posted as such, Google have no more right to be on it taking pictures than they do walking into their bedroom and taking pictures there. Boring or not.

  24. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    Privacy is as privacy does.

    Once the djin is out of the bottle you might as well sue the buggers that removed the cork. Maybe go after the other starbuds too!

    Make some money at least to pay for the intrusion. Why not.

  25. Seán

    What a shithole

    If the nomarks don't want publicity they're rightly fucked now. I think Google should give them $50,000 to try to turn that desolate shithole of a house into something worth photographing.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    What damages?

    To win in court, the boring Borings need to prove damages-- and that Google caused the damages. Since they bought the house apparently 2nd hand (or at least used) it is not as if they are the only people ever to see the place. The house probably declined in value, but hardly because of Google. Indeed, if the house went up in value, would they pay Google a dime? I think not.

    And while they are punting away in court, the Fed is pushing onward with Real Police State ID, hundreds or thousands of companies have nearly unfettered access to their personal (hah!) records, liens in the form of Treasury Bills are being spewed out in torrents on the Boring future income, .... while they are sticking a pastie over one privacy leak, the back half of the ship has been sawn off (and right through the loo too!).

  27. Fred

    lol... Boring...

    Mr Men characters...

  28. Steve Nimmons

    Snapped from Above

    The strength of their case seems to hinge on whether signs for private road should have been ignored. But what if the photos had been taken from a low flying plane? The road being private does not necessarily preserve the privacy of property on that road as they could hardly claim the sign covered airspace!

  29. J
    Black Helicopters


    Yep, but at least the Google thing is not real time... (yet?)

  30. ImaGnuber

    Oh it's google... OK then.

    Ah the Streisand Effect - yep, better let those big ol' companies spit on your privacy (or whatever) because objecting will only get you more publicity and less privacy.

    Yeah that makes sense. BigBiz is probably happy for your support.

    I suppose it's a double whammy if you've got a name the chav-class techies will laugh at and use as part of their sarcastic dismissal of your concerns.

    Think it through, sheeple. If the gov/police were doing this you would be livid.

  31. Roger Stenning
    Thumb Down

    "Private Road"? nope, not enough.

    Private Road, eh? OK, so there's a sign. Bully for them. If they don't want visitors, where's the armed private security, the chain-link fences, Rottweilers, and so on to prevent access to uninvited guests?

    Over here in the UK, "Private Road" means that the road has not been 'adopted' by the local authority or Highways Agency, and that all maintenance costs are borne by the residents. It also tends to mean that there are gates - there are five private estates within a few miles of where I live, and all of these have gate facilities, not that they're used often. one of them, even though they fitted it with road humps (a 'traffic calming' measure, is still used as a short cut, and still they don't close the gates.

    So, I again ask: If they didn't want folks driving around their estate or road, where the heck were the gates?

    When all's said and done, I think this is just a cynical exercise in getting money off a large company. I hope the judge sees it for what it is, and throws the case out.

  32. Martin Beckett Silver badge

    Wot No permission

    >In the UK, film companies and professional photographers have to jump >through legal hoops when it comes to obtaining permission to film private

    No they don't - in the UK it is perfectly legal to take pictures of anything so long as you are standing on public property when you do it. There are a few restrictions for national security etc but generally if you can see it you can photograph it.

    It isn't even illegal to trespass onto private property to take pictures - although you could be prevented from publishing them by a civil case.

    There is an interesting twist in the US where the architect has the copyright on the public view of a private building. Nobody has objected so far - presumably on the grounds that no business wants to disapear from google's search.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Waste Land

    I've seen the photos and their "house" looks like a bit of waste industrial land with some concrete out buildings. If they like privacy so much maybe they could invest in a perimeter fence like the rest of us?

    They don't get any sympathy from me. They've got a swimming pool in plain sight of the road.

    The thing that puzzles me is why is Google wasting its time taking pictures of their house in the first place?

  34. Richard Penna

    Jokes aside...

    Having looked at the pictures on another site, I can see what the Borings are complaining about. Google doesn't have a right to march into a private residence and start taking photos.

    Now maybe that $25,000 they're demanding is going a little far, but a removal of the pictures isn't an unreasonable request IMO.

    Thing is, if it was a 'celebrity' 's home, there would be total uproar, front page news and an official apology from Google the next day. But it's just normal people so it doesn't matter.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clear motivation unnecessary

    I'd be an annoying, whiney grabwallet if I was named Boring, too.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Filming in the UK

    "In the UK, film companies and professional photographers have to jump through legal hoops when it comes to obtaining permission to film private property and individuals."

    Erm, are you sure? As far as I'm aware, if you're in a public place you can film who and what you want (unless you could be doing something terroristish but that's another story).

    The private road aspect changes things slightly but then you're filming on private property, not filming private property.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Oh sure, they shot down my request for a 12' electric fence...

    All I wanted was an electric fence, to keep people out of my tiny yard. But no, city council said no, not within 1000 yards of a public school or within 100 yards of a sidewalk.. The bastards! Oh, and for your information the machine gun nests were only ornamental.

  38. Elmars Ositis

    The Borings may have a legal problem with that pool

    I don't know what the laws are in their state, but in California, where I used to live, a property with a swimming pool was required to have a 6 foot (1.8m) fence either around the pool or around the property. The reasons for this are to prevent unauthorised and unsupervised children from playing in the pool and drowning. Generally people then install wood fences around their property, with few if any peep holes and then have all the fun they want.

    I think the attorneys at google can also have at the couple on the hypocrisy of their demand. If their privacy is so important, they should have built a fence, or they should have put the pool in a place where it cannot be seen.

    Finally, their interpretation of 'private road' in yankee understanding does not mean 'unauthorised persons do not enter', but it means 'road maintained by local homeowners'. If they check the laws and precedents, they will find that the law is quite specific on the public access of a road which is not gated...

    Stupid move by the Borings. They will loose and it could turn out to be expensive.


  39. Elfoad Regfoad

    Like leaping up and down naked in the middle of the road and demanding no one look at you...

    ImaGnuber: "I can't imagine what it's like to live in Britain where government streetview is live all the time"

    Yeah, because Britain is the only place with street CCTV... where do you live that's so surveillance-free?

    Paul M. "But the subtext of the article is that they deserved it. Why? Because they live in Pittsburgh? Because they're rich? Because they've got a funny name?"

    They didn't "deserve" to have photos taken of their house, but they do deserve ridicule for attempting to get $25000 for ridiculous claims of mental damage and loss of property value - the photos have already been removed, that should've been all they were seeking. Anything else is just greed - an attempt to grab a fast buck they did nothing to earn. And if their privacy was such an issue, then it kind of backfired - the lawsuit has brought the photos to the attention of many many more people than would ever have noticed them otherwise.

    Also, I wouldn't call them rich - it wasn't exactly an expensive house (unless property is a hell of a lot cheaper in the US than it is in the UK), and it's no mansion - the house and the lawn look pretty rough - again, something we wouldn't be aware of if it wasn't for their quest for "privacy".

    They do have a funny name though, and let's not pretend we don't enjoy making fun of people with funny names.

  40. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    Wankers , let the fun begin , think of all those new boring party jokes that will be doing the rounds now , might even some of PH's limelight too !

  41. kain preacher


    In America if its street level they can take pics all they want.,as long as its being street level. If that was not true private investigators would get nailed for taking pics of people in public.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Ooh pay the Boring people

    to go away it's the only way I have found that works. Oh yes and that pool wouldn't fly here either most places have laws against pools with no fences.

  43. Sean Charles
    Thumb Up

    Hooray for some 'common' sense...

    Google may have scanned, photographed and digitised the Earth but they most certainly do not own it... I live in the UK, which apart from the highest CCTV hit-rate-per-person-per-day (> 300) it also probably also got the worst, most corrupt and incompetent government that has ever jay-walked down the corridors of power. They can't manage a piss up in a brewery without taxing it out of existence unless of course one of their family members works there for 40K a year doing bugger all.. identity cards ? I don't think so.

    In this country they (read: The Man) actually wanted to use satellite imagery to calculate the Council Tax we have to pay. For Petes sake what next ?

    I am glad these people made a fuss, whatever their motives; if we don't act soon, 1984, Orwell, Brazil, will all seem like a nice place to be.

  44. WT

    I say: award them 5.000.000 USD

    Amazing how the internet population has totally lost respect of privacy and dignity of other people.

    I hope the court will award these people 5.000.000 USD in damages and teach Google a lesson. In addition I hope the court will also award them damages of 1000 USD for each incident where their name has been ridiculed anywhere on the internet as a result of this story becoming public.

    I know, I know, this is wishful thinking, but it would be just.

  45. This post has been deleted by its author

  46. zxcvbnm

    £80,000 for a house

    Yes ok its a bit of a dump but still it is still a swimming pool and a house for £80,000 pounds.

  47. Vaughan

    The solution is...


  48. India

    plain rubbish!

    Mr and Mrs Boring are just after money! Google only took a picture of their house! And even if they've got a case 25,000 is quite a lot of money!

  49. ImaGnuber

    if it had been an American police vehicle

    @Elfoad Regfoad

    "Yeah, because Britain is the only place with street CCTV... where do you live that's so surveillance-free?"


    And I said "*relatively* surveillance-free streets". Compared to Britain which is now known as the most surveilled country in the world. How many cameras did they want just for the Olympics according to the Reg - 500,000 or something like that - and that's in addition to the millions they now have? Is there any other country in the world which is putting so much into surveilling its own population?

    Of course Britain is so tiny you could drop it into a section of the province I live in (which is to Canada what Britain is to my province) so it's considerably easier over there.

    Still, Britain does seem to be the west's lab for total surveillance experiments.

    I repeat: "Think it through, sheeple. If the gov/police were doing this you would be livid." I think we can easily imagine what kind of comments would be showing up here if it had been an American police vehicle driving around taking photos of everyone's property. But it's google so lets just giggle and suggest anyone who objects is just silly.

  50. ImaGnuber


    Uh-oh. It just occurred to me that 'streetview' may just be a first step in preparing the North American population for a total surveillance society.

    I for one welcome our GoogleStasi overlords. That silver 'Do no evil' pin looks great against your black shirt!

    Success is assured as shown by the fact that several people have already reported possible infractions of the law based on your photos.

    Mine's the one with the little lens poking through the buttonhole.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    April fool?

    $25K damages? Must be an April fool, no american would sue Google for less than $1m

  52. Les Matthew

    @Roger Stenning

    "So, I again ask: If they didn't want folks driving around their estate or road, where the heck were the gates?"

    Maybe they thought people would understand the meaning of the word "private"?

  53. Steven Raith
    Paris Hilton

    Surely a simpler solution would be... have contacted Google, expressed concern about it the pictures, and suggested that if they pull the pictures for the short term, stump up half the material costs for a four foot fence [I'm of the opinion that any pool should be fenced off, full stop - child/animal safety, and your own privacy when in it] and that they could come back and take more pictures once that was up.

    As opposed to just attempting to sue the bollocks off of them, which just looks petty, childish and infantile.

    Whatever happened to meeting people half-way?

    Steven R

    Paris, because she's quite used to having her privacy invaded.

  54. Marco Alfarrobinha

    @ Sean Charles

    Sorry to be out of topic, but you are an idiot.

    UK politicians corrupt?

    Any African, Latin-American, Asian country will beat UK politicians hands down in the corruption stakes. UK politicians are quite good, even compared with the rest of Europe.

    Here, got it out of my chest.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    Are they related?

    Perhaps they are related to the Boring-Old-Git's from Slough?

  56. Anonymous Coward

    @zxcvbnm ("£80,000 for a house")

    True but that's probably what it's worth. Over here the same house would be worth £80,000 too but greedy people / estate agents / lenders have all lost the plot.

    I looked through our local property pages last night (just for a laugh of course!) and there was a one bed flat in [a reasonably nice semi-rural location in] Derbyshire for £130,000. There's also a 2 bed bunaglow (small bungalow on small plot - built in someone's back garden in fact) on for over 300k. Again this is in Derbyshire - a nice county to live in but not the most prosperous part of the UK by a long stretch.

    On the subject of the google pics if they were taken from a public road at a normal eye-level and with a wide-angle that doesn't zoom on an individual or particular subject within the property then I can't see how the Borings' legal argument will stand up. They're like the people who dislike passers-by looking into their living room from the street, but refuse to fit net-curtains.

  57. Joe K

    What really sickens me.... that 80 grand wouldn't buy you a garden shed (+land) over here in the UK, yet they get a house with swimming pool.

    This country is going to hell.

  58. Neil Jones

    Like the rest of us...

    Everyone can see my back garden on Google Earth, despite the fact it's got a 6' fence surrounding it - can I sue?

  59. Richard Williams
    Paris Hilton

    Spy Satellites

    So are they going to start suing the US Government next for having 'homeland security' satellites buzzing over their house, the recruited teen geek ex-hackers who operate the systems getting their rocks off watching their daughters frolic in the lovely swimming pool?!

    Paris, cos I think she'd gladly get all the coverage (with lack of coverings!!) that she could get!

  60. Robert Grant

    Wake up

    Exchange rates, people. It looks cheap because the pound is strong against the dollar. And you can get plenty of decent houses in the East Midlands for not too much - I'm looking in Wollaton (fairly nice part of Nottingham) at 3-bed semis/detacheds for about £160-180k.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Joe K

    Don't worry Joe, they're sending a property crash over for us.

  62. Spleen

    @Sean and Charles

    You're both wrong. All politicians are equally corrupt. A politician in the UK, however, has less opportunity to indulge his kleptomania than one in Nigeria. That does not change his essential nature. Put a tiger in a cage and he will act differently from a tiger in the jungle, but he remains a panthera tigris. He does not suddenly change into a different species which looks and acts like a tiger but eats what handlers give him rather than what he can tear apart with his claws.

  63. Anonymous Coward

    Mucking fuppets!

    "It appears that Google has now removed the offending pics from Street View. But that doesn't mean the Borings have recovered their privacy. Their lawsuit has also ensured that their house and swimming pool are pictured on all sorts of other sites across the web."


  64. glenn

    what a crap hole, i've seen nicer caravans.....

    If i'd payed a considerable sum of money for a property that looked little more than a converted set of prefab concrete garages and a paddling pool then i'd want it keeping private too!!!! Me thinks that they want the cash compensation to go towards buying somewhere that justifies having a private road.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: the Streisand Effect

    The Streisand Effect will probably be the justification for the sheer size of the claim.

    If Google was in the wrong, it's a wrong that can't be undone. In seeking reparations, the situation becomes worse; this is not the couple's fault. They must then either settle for:

    a) no reparations, meaning continued invasion of privacy;

    b) reasonable reparations for small invasion of privacy, but with large invasion of privacy;


    c) reasonable reparations for having their names and faces plastered all over the internet and laughed at.

    No win situation, so why not nail 'em. It's the only way they'll learn.

  66. Dan Maudsley

    Re: Snapped from above

    >The strength of their case seems to hinge on whether signs for private road should have been ignored. But what if the photos had been taken from a low flying plane? The road being private does not necessarily preserve the privacy of property on that road as they could hardly claim the sign covered airspace!

    Actually, that's how the press in the UK get around the problem of taking photos of houses, etc, that can't be seen from public land. They regularlty hire helicopters and planes to get the overhead shots of stars' homes and so on. A no-fly zone is the only way around it.

  67. andy gibson


    It's a crap looking house anyway, I wouldn't have wasted my time looking at it if they hadn't brought up the case in the first place.

  68. Pat Dougan

    I can't believe... many here think it's unreasonable for the Borings to have some expectation of privacy. Complain about phorm, but when real life (tm) issues occur, how dare we complain!!

    Should phorm be an opt out only? DNA entries for all?

    These people should have a perfectly reasonable expectation of privacy. Just because Google has decided it wants to photograph the world doesn't mean that it is right. And just because the couples house falls below some of you aesthete's high standards, doesn't make it any more right that Google, or anyone can drive up to their door and invade their privacy.

    The Borings didn't cause this. Google did. Google decided to take pictures and splash them across the web for anyone to see. Nice house or horrible house, freedom and privacy shouldn't be an opt in deal. It should be an expectation.

    I hope the couple are successful. A take down order will make no difference to the company. A $25000 dollar take down for each infringement might.

  69. Tim

    Wrong way to deal with it.

    Google remove any pictures people complain about, so if they'd just asked nicely the pictures would have been removed and nobody would have cared about their house.

    It's not like google scaled their fence or anything....these pictures are of whats clearly visable to their neighbours when they drive up the road, or anyone taking a wrong turn.

    $25,000 looks like it would be alot to these people (enough to paint the house and water the lawn atleast) google won't have to pay it, but if all the people that think google should have to pay each dontated $1 they might be able to put those $4-5 to some antidepresants so they can stop being so miserable.

  70. ImaGnuber
    Black Helicopters


    Anybody else suspect that many of those who are saying that the Borings shouldn't expect/don't deserve privacy are actually government/police employees trying to weaken expectations/demands for privacy from the general public?


    Oh god I can't hear any helicopters must run... no no! Not the tas... aaargh!

  71. Michael Bonneau


    I'm more angry about the fact that Google Street View shows nothing in my city, and Google Maps is so out-of-date the subdivision I've been living in for the past 6 months is still a farmers field.

  72. foof

    Serious toe

    That guy in the orange jumpsuit in the video on the Street View page seems to be rather proud of his package.

  73. Daniel B.

    @Michael Bonneau

    "Google Maps is so out-of-date the subdivision I've been living in for the past 6 months is still a farmers field."

    My current apartment complex shows as halfway done. Thats the current pics, but about 6 months ago, there was *nothing* showing in the area where my apt stands.

    The other city I lived in has a pretty nice BRT system, but if you check the city (Leon, Gto, Mexico) on Google Earth you'll suddenly see the BRT stations "disappear" when going south-east. Notice that this system's been working since 2003, and I noted this during late 2006.

    While Google Earth seems as a nice idea, I really don't see the "advantage" over Street View other than a voyeuristic's fantasy come true.

  74. tim

    @ Robert Grant

    Yeah if you make the exchange rate $=£ you can get an OK house in the UK for the price they paid. But I hardly think a three bed semi in a suburb of Nottingham qualifies you as 'rich'

  75. insane analyst

    Prepare to be boreded ?

    I think I'll sue google for injury to my aestetic sensibilities. What a dump, more garage space than living space, do these people sleep in their cars?

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