Don't let Google catch you with your pants down

Want to be Internet famous for 15 seconds? Urine luck -- especially if Google's Street View cameras are in the area

Google's new all-for-one one-for-all privacy policy that went into effect yesterday is getting some people's boxers in a bunch. Small wonder -- it's a timely reminder that Google knows more about most of us than our mothers do. And like our mothers, it could use this information to embarrass us in front of our friends.

For example, Reuters reports that a man in a remote region of France is suing Google because its Street View cameras caught him in the act of emptying his bladder.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Street View or no, Google still doesn't need your stinking privacy rules, says Cringely. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]

L'homme in question was in his driveway, um, watering the plants, when one of Google's camera-festooned vans drove by. Only later, when his garden micturition became part of Google Maps, did he realize he'd been captured for posterity.

Though Google blurred his face, the man says his neighbors were able to recognize him. Now he claims he is a laughingstock in his village and wants 10,000 Euros to salve his pain.

According to the Daily Mail, the man's attorney Jean-Noel Bouillard "did not explain why the man had chosen to urinate outside at his home in the village with a population of 3,000 in the Maine-et-Loire region, in France's Loire Valley."

Having been to France on multiple occasions, I would guess that Google Street View is less likely to capture a Frenchman in the act of actually using an indoor toilet. But I digress.

As Bouillard notes, yes, it's kind of amusing when someone else is caught with his pants down -- literally. But if Google had captured his client in the act of kissing another man's wife (another classic French pastime), the situation would be somewhat less comical.

I don't know whether Bouillard's client has a leg to stand on. But it turns out that Google catching people in the act of relieving themselves is not uncommon. The website StreetViewFunny offers up a dozen such captures from around the globe, as well as a handful of blurry shots of people in their birthday suits and/or kissing.

It's also not clear if any of these aggrieved parties are (ahem) PO'd enough to sue Google. I hope they do -- because Google's belief that the world's information is the company's to manipulate however it pleases has really gotten out of hand.

And now for something completely different: Check out this video of autonomous flying robots playing the theme from James Bond, shown earlier this week at the TED conference. It's wicked cool and more than a bit freaky.

Among other things, autonomous robots like these could be used to enter collapsed buildings to look for survivors or to carry parts and construct objects in areas too dangerous for humans to enter.

Also: They could be mounted with cameras and used for Google's upcoming Toilet View service. Because, as we all know, there is no place where Google will not go.

Has Google gone too far -- yet again? Post your thoughts below or email me (but please, no photos of bodily functions): cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Don't let Google catch you with your pants down," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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