Germany Rules Google Street View Legal
Germany led the charge in investigating Google for harvesting personal information via their Street View service. Dozens of countries and individuals followed in Germany’s wake, launching investigations and prosecuting lawsuits against the company. When Street View finally debuted in Germany, over 240,000 residents opted out.
But the lawsuits continued. Now, however, a Berlin court has ruled definitively that, however odious the service may be to many, it is, in fact legal in Germany.
On March 15 the Berlin State Supreme Court ruled in the case of a private lawsuit filed last year that taking photographs from the street does not constitute an invasion of privacy.
The woman who filed the suit maintained that the Google Street View cars, whose cameras are mounted at a height of almost nine feet, were high enough to see over the hedge in front of her family’s house.
The court countered that the photos were taken from the street, not sidewalk, and that Germany has an opt-out rule for Street View that would mean her family’s home would not appear online. (This does not address the apparent fact that some who had opted-out still saw their houses on Street View from certain angles.)
Due to the Berlin court being a terminal decision, there should be no more appeals, at least not for this case. The ruling is now a part of German legal precedent.
In related news, French courts have assessed a fine of 100,000 Euros (about $141,000) for Google’s Street View activities in that country.