Man sues Google over Street View urination shot

A Frenchman believes he's become the village laughing stock after he appears urinating in his own front yard on Street View. So he's suing.

In the Maine-et-Loire region, some have large gardens. Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The English like to say that their home is their castle. One Frenchman would like his home to be, well, his home.

Indeed, he is suing Google for his right to pee--should he so choose--on his rhododendrons in private.

This is, sadly, another case in which Google's prying, human-driven Street View cars have captured something that was not really theirs to see.

For, as Reuters tells this pitiful tale, a man was in his garden in the Maine-et-Loire region of France and was caught short.

Believing he was in the privacy of his own natural outdoor privy, he urinated.

Please imagine how he became a man overwrought when his act of urination became visible to the nation on Google Street View.

The somewhat pissed gentleman insists that, even though Google blurred his face, the local villagers know it is him. This has caused him dribbles of pain and trauma.

This is entirely understandable. Anyone who has read or watched "Clochemerle"--which happens to be about a village urinal--knows just how nosy some French villagers can be. One can only surmise what difficult jibes they have sprayed his way under the guise of humor.

They might have offered comment on the beautiful yellow color of his blooms. They might have even made terrible fertilizer jokes.

Little wonder that his lawyer, Jean-Noel Bouillard, told Reuters: "Everyone has the right to a degree of secrecy. In this particular case, it's more amusing than serious. But if he'd been caught kissing a woman other than his wife, he would have had the same issue."

Oh, but it is serious. Google's nosiness has surely gone far enough. If the company thought it could make money out of such information, it would try to put cameras or other electronic devices in our boudoirs and our undies. And all in the interest of shareholder titillation. I mean, value.

It is one thing to capture an iconic cultural moment, as when a Street View car caught a Brit vomiting. It is quite another when Google's little prying Priuses catch ladies naked in the front yards or gentlemen naked in the trunks of their cars .

A claim for 10,000 euros ($13,300) is surely insufficient for the pain this poor Frenchman continues to endure. Even the complete removal of the shot--which his lawyer is reportedly also requesting--will never be enough because it will still exist on some large computers and all small village minds.

Google's lawyer--reportedly the interestingly named Christophe Bigot--has not responded to this Frenchman's claim. However, given Google's recent galling privacy missteps , surely it could do worse than appointing this gardener to be one of its French privacy guardians.

He would be able to define the parameters of invasive behavior, because he's felt it. And, where Google is concerned, feelings are very important indeed.

 

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