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Google sued by Frenchman caught urinating on Street View

The resulting photo, the man contends, has made him a laughing stock in his small village in the Maine-et-Loire district

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Google is getting an earful from a French villager concerned about - what else - an invasion of privacy.

Already facing heavy criticism about changes to its privacy policy that allow the Internet search leader to delve deeper into the lives of its users, Google is now being sued over a Street View image that shows an unidentified man in France urinating in his own yard.

The resulting photo, the man contends, has made him a laughing stock in his small village in the Maine-et-Loire district in northwestern France. Even though Google blurred out the man's face, as is common practice for Street View images that capture a human face, the man is still easily identifiable to village residents who know him well.

The man is seeking 10,000 euros in damages, arguing that Google violated his right to privacy. The man is also demanding the offending photo be removed from Google Maps' Street View feature, according to Ouest France (translation).

The French whiz master is just one of numerous people caught in embarrassing or bizarre situations by Google's Street View, such as an apparently naked man emerging from the trunk of a car, couples kissing, and men entering "adult entertainment" stores. Google's Street View has also caught several people in embarrassing situations in other parts of the world, including the Canary Islands, Spain, and the UK.

Google has faced criticism in the past for taking Street View photos that feature residential yards. In 2009, Google had to reshoot Street View images for 12 Japanese cities after complaints that the Street View cars were mounted too high and shooting over fences into private homes. To appease disgruntled residents, Google lowered its cameras by 16 inches for the Japanese Street View do over.

Google was also sued by a Pittsburgh couple in 2008 after the couple's home appeared in Street View. The suit's primary complaints were that Google violated the homeowners' privacy, trespassed onto their property, and acted negligently. A judge later threw out the lawsuit.

A court in Angers, France, is due to make a ruling on the Street View urination complaint on 15 March.


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