"Complete Privacy Does Not Exist" Statement WRONGLY Attributed to Google in Lawsuit

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  • "Complete Privacy Does Not Exist" Statement WRONGLY Attributed to Google in Lawsuit

The Internet is all abuzz today with a line from Google’s response in the invasion of privacy lawsuit filed against Google by Aaron Boring and Christine Boring of Pennsylvania.

Aaron and Christine Boring sued Google earlier this year for the inclusion of a picture of their home in Google’s Street View version of its widely-used Maps feature. The Borings’ house is at the end of a private road, which is clearly marked “Private Road” and, their lawsuit contends, the Google StreetView van unpermittedly invaded their privacy when it went on that private road for a few moments to photograph the area.

Google’s response includes a soon-to-be-infamous line, “Complete privacy does not exist.”

The line comes from a paragraph in Google’s response to the Boring’s lawsuit which reads, in full:


“Complete privacy does not exist in this world except in a desert, and anyone who is not a hermit must expect and endure the ordinary incidents of the community life of which he is a part.”

 

Google’s court filing which contains this language was made public yesterday, and now thousands of Internet sites are blasting Google for it, including Slashdot, and the The Smoking Gun.

There’s only one problem.

Google didn’t actually say it.

In fact, if any of these sites had done even the simplest of research, they would have discovered that Google’s legal team was actually quoting – as they were almost required to – from the authoratative legal reference on these matters, the Restatement of Torts.

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"Complete Privacy Does Not Exist" Statement WRONGLY Attributed to Google in Lawsuit

Yes, that’s right, the primary legal authority on the subject of the tort (that’s fancy lawyer talk for “somebody harmed somebody else”) of invasion of privacy, the Restatement of Torts is the legal authority which states that “Complete privacy does not exist in this world except in a desert, and anyone who is not a hermit must expect and endure the ordinary incidents of the community life of which he is a part.”

So, in fact, it is a recognized, established legal fact that “complete privacy does not exist”, not something which Google made up!

You can go look it up yourself in any law library – it’s in section 652D of the Restatement of Torts.

And what’s more, the Restatement adopted that standard based on a Court holding more than fifteen years ago which said the same thing. Had any of these sites bothered, they would have discovered that this standard was first handed down in a case known as Perkins v. Freedom of Information, which was filed in 1992, and published in 1993.

Indeed, on the Smoking Gun site, where they show the actual legal document filed by Google, it says it right there in the document on the site!

But hey, why let a little thing like the facts get in the way of a juicy story?

Now, you can argue all day as to whether Google invaded the Boring’s privacy – or even whether as a society we can no longer have an expectation of complete privacy.

But to skewer Google for something which they didn’t say, and which their lawyers had a legal obligation to put in their pleadings in order to – you know – make sure the Court was aware of that legal standard, is wrong.

  
No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free? Thank you!

"Complete Privacy Does Not Exist" Statement WRONGLY Attributed to Google in Lawsuit

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