EDITORIAL: Does Google go too far?

(U-WIRE) NORMAL, Ill. – Technology seems to be rapidly advancing. In this country, as well as many others, we have developed systems that make it possible for us to view massive amounts of information at one time without having to leave our desks. We can listen to 1,000 plus songs on a device that is the size of a credit card, film short videos and put them on a public forum for the world to see and watch our favorite episodes of television over and over from our computers.

The possibilities have become vast.

One very active participant in this technology growth is Google. The search engine has quickly become widely used, allowing people to find information on almost anything that has been printed or published online.

Going on a blind date that Mom set up? Find the person’s name and “Google” it. Want to work for a company that you have never heard of? “Google” it and find out more. Need directions to a new restaurant? “Google” the name and get the address and directions.

Google has allowed us to find necessary and unnecessary information on almost any topic we please. It gives news, information, images, maps and more.

Recently, Google has added a new feature to Google Maps, now uploading street view photos of a destination. These types of photos include locations of businesses, stores, and even subdivisions.

For many people, if they google their address, it might be very possible for them to find a street view photo of their home. To some, this is a nifty new feature, but to others, it crosses the line.

Recently, a Pittsburgh couple has filed a lawsuit against google because of the photo of their home on the website. The couple claims that they saw Google come onto their driveway in order to take pictures for the new feature, and that the photo online threatens their safety.

However, Google does not agree. The company has pointed out that website users can file a request with Google to have the photo removed if desired.

While Google did not actually commit a crime, as things that are within public view can be photographed legally, the line between violating privacy and staying within ones rights seems very fine.

True, if Google did take the photo from the couple’s driveway, as they claimed, the situation might be a little different, as the company would have taken the photo from public property.

Either way, the question still stands: does this violate our privacy?

While it might not be unconstitutional, the Pittsburgh couple felt unsafe that a photo of their home was on Google Maps. Other people might feel the same way.

What if this feature of Google Maps became a tool to someone trying to break in to a home? What if the new feature made it easier to stalk a person without being penalized by the law?

With these questions, it becomes clear that while this lawsuit is probably not necessary, it is also probably not a means to gain a quick dollar from a large corporation.

But will there be other lawsuits?

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