Google fined for 'Street View' image of Canadian woman's cleavage
Woman unhappy (Shutterstock)

Google has been fined 2,250 Canadian dollars for an image on Street View that captured images of a Canadian woman’s cleavage.

A Canadian court judge ruled that despite being in public, sitting on the steps of her private property, Maria Pia Grillo’s privacy had been disrespected and that her “modesty and dignity” had been violated.

“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,” said judge Alain Breault, describing his approach to the case as “European” and ordering Google to pay a $2,250.

Google declined to comment.

‘Right to have a private life’

Grillo had originally sued for $45,000 in damages, including for the “right to have a private life” explaining that despite the image having had her face automatically blurred out, as with all images captured of people by Google’s Street View cars, her house and car registration plate clearly identified her as the subject of the image.

Grillo said that she suffered “mockeries, derisions, disrespectful and sexually related comments in relation to the photographs” due to the fact that she was clearly identifiable despite Google’s anonymisation.

The images were captured in March 2009, later released onto the site in October that year. According to court documents Grillo requested Google remove the image, but did not receive a response from the technology company, headquartered in Ontario for its Canadian operations.

‘At the mercy of potential predators’

“This puts me, my house, my vehicle 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,” said Grillo in the court documents.

Grillo filled the lawsuit in 2011 with the Canadian small claims court. Google told the court that it had blurred all the parts of the image requested by Grillo. Her house was blurred in 2011 removing her image from the mapping service.

Google’s Street View cars drive around public streets with cameras that capture a 360-degree view of the environment. The images are then stitched together to create a service that allows users to browse streets and buildings from the ground level.

But the service has seen resistance from data protection regulators in various countries including Germany, which fined Google €145,000 for “unprecedented privacy violations” and Italy, which recently fined Google €1m over complaints that the cars capturing images in 2010 were not clearly recognizable.

In the UK, Google was told in 2013 to delete data captured about Wi-Fi networks by its Street View cars, or face prosecution by the Information Commissioner’s office.

(Reported by Samuel Gibbs)