Although her face was blurred out, image had “part of her breast exposed.”
Earlier this month, a Quebecois court in Montreal decided that Google owed a woman $2,250 for picturing her with “part of her breast exposed” in a Street View image. The woman was sitting in front of her house, and although her face was blurred out, she was still identifiable by her coworkers, especially as her car was parked in the driveway without the license plate blurred out.
As GigaOm writes, “Maria Pia Grillo suffered shock and embarrassment when she looked up her house using Google Maps’ Street View feature in 2009 and discovered an image that shows her leaning forward and exposing cleavage.” Grillo complained to Canadian authorites and Google, but when she had no response from Google after several weeks, she wrote a letter to the company saying:
I have informed myself as to my rights concerning this situation through the office of the privacy commissionars of Canada. Under the law my lisence plate should not appear. Moreover, from a safety and security standpoint, the information shown constitutes a total violation. This puts me, my house, my vehicule and my family members that I live with at the mercy of potential predators. I feel very vulnerable knowing that the information is available to anyone with internet access. The damage has been done.
Google never responded—it later told the court that it never received the letter and could not find it in a search. Grillo filed a complaint in 2011 asking Google to blur out more of the image, including most of her body and her license plate. She also asked that Google pay her CAD $45,000 for the depression she suffered when her coworkers “at a well-known bank” found the image and mocked her for it. According to Canadian tabloid Journal de Montreal, Grillo eventually quit her job.
Google agreed to blur out the photo when the lawsuit was filed, but it refused to pay Grillo compensation on the grounds that she was in a public place when the photo was taken, and that Google was not responsible for any emotional harm Grillo may have incurred. Grillo later agreed to reduce her claims to CAD $7,000.
The presiding judge only awarded Grillo a portion of that, but he did decide that some monetary compensation was appropriate. “In addition to malicious comments and humiliation she suffered at work, the plaintiff, in particular, has experienced a significant loss of personal modesty and dignity, two values that she held and are eminently respectable,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
”Mme. Grillo explains that the house where she lives is in a residential neighborhood that isn’t too busy, a ‘private area,’ as she describes it,” the judge’s ruling read.
Still, the judge said that Google was not responsible for the malicious comments made to Grillo, but he did rule that “people do not forfeit their privacy rights simply by being in a location others can see them,” according to GigaOm.
Google declined to comment for this story.