Steve Hall was checking out his neighbor's fence on Google Street View after his neighbor, who had plans to replace it, offered up the fence wood. But he didn't expect to find what was online.
"I noticed the arrow that went into the alley and I was like, 'What? I've never seen that before. Since when does Google go down the alley?'" Hall said.
"Sure enough, you can see over the top of everybody's fences that I would say are shy of eight or nine feet," he said.
Hall said his privacy fence is six feet tall, and it's built up from the alleyway, but that was not enough to block the view of Google's cameras.
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"I checked my own fence. I was astonished just everything it revealed," Hall said.
Hall said he doesn't see a need for Google to capture images in alleyways and said he doesn't know when the vehicle moved through the alleyway taking photos, but he believes it was sometime around March or April based on what was shown in the photographs.
"I was shocked. The thing is a lot of us have little children. I have a small child, and you could clearly see a little cardboard playhouse we had on the back porch, and that's not something you want to put on the Internet," Hall said.
Hall warned his neighbors on the site NextDoor.com, and requested Google blur the images of his home captured from the alleyway. He said they responded quickly and blurred part of the image.
Hall then requested more be blurred, and it was.
"When you put images over the tops of people’s fences on the Internet, that gives the wrong kind of people very good intelligence access to what's over the top of your fence," Hall said. "Do you have children, where are your windows, is there cover, how many doors do you have, are they glass doors? It's one thing for somebody to case your house from the alley, that is suspicious. If somebody were to see somebody looking over the back of the fence, that would be, boom – police. Even if somebody were to drive through the alley that's going to attract attention. But when you can do it in the privacy of your own home, that's a whole different deal."
The alleyways across Dallas are public right-of-ways, according to a city spokesperson. Google does not have to notify the city it is collecting images in public areas.
In a notice posted online, Google said Street View is public access only and goes on to state, "Street View contains imagery from public roads that is no different from what you might see driving or walking down the street. Imagery of this kind is available in a wide variety of formats for cities all around the world."
A Google representative provided NBC 5 with the following information: "Generally, we've created an easy-to-use reporting tool so that people can ask for images of their house, car or themselves to be further obscured in Street View. Simply click on 'Report a problem' on the bottom left-hand side of the Street View image, submit a request, and we'll blur the image."
Click the link for more on Google's privacy information and how to request photos of your property be blurred.