Court: Google Not Off the Hook for Its Street View Data Grab

Circuit Judge Jay Bybee wrote that this collection violated the Wiretap Act, and that privacy protections do not depend on whether or not the network is secure.

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A Federal appeals court refused on Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit against Google that accuses the technology giant of having violated a federal wiretap law when it collected emails, user names, passwords, and other data from personal Wi-Fi networks while collecting photos for its popular Street View feature.

The lawsuit began after Google publicly apologized in 2010 for gathering “payload data” from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in 30 countries, Reuters reports. The allegedly inadvertent data grab occurred when Google vehicles were driving around the world collecting photos to assemble Street View.

Circuit Judge Jay Bybee wrote that this collection violated the Wiretap Act, and that privacy protections do not depend on whether or not the network is secure.

The decision, which is being hailed by privacy advocates as a landmark decision, allows plaintiffs in several consolidated private lawsuits to pursue federal Wiretap Act claims against Google.

[Reuters]

11 comments
angelabrown014
angelabrown014

Privacy violations by google, facebook, and others is why I now use sites like Ravetree and DuckDuckGo.

HarryMasters
HarryMasters

Guess the judge wanted to make it clear that the NSA must personally violate peoples rights

chokeonmyhallowpoint
chokeonmyhallowpoint

Govt.  You can not collect data from people while doing it themselves...

jbeam794
jbeam794

The 2 comments below are from a couple of idiots.  I can steal direct TV because it comes across my yard.  But i don't because it is against the law.  Joe and syn Grow a brain

JoeMac4442
JoeMac4442

So people irresponsibly install an unprotected WiFi network in their home by not initiating the simple security password setup on the router, then complain when their data is available to anyone? If Google was cracking your security and then grabbing data, that's a lawsuit but if you're too stupid or lazy to protect your network, then you need to accept the responsibility for your own actions (or in this case, inaction).

syndactl
syndactl

@jbeam794 I'm very curious as to what you think I said... I guess the analogy went over your head. Let me spell it out:

"Leaving your wireless network unprotected is like leaving your car unlocked. It's a dumb thing to do - but someone will still be prosecuted for going into the car and taking your things."

Translation: Even if someone makes it easy for you to steal from them, it's still wrong. 

Pretty much exactly the same thing you said, only referencing a car instead of Direct TV. But thank you for your insightful criticism.

HarryMasters
HarryMasters

@jbeam794 Rather than say "The 2 comments below are from a couple of idiots" 

I would suggest "I disagree with the 2 comments below "

Name calling puts you in company of the those you identified in your original statement

mavisrooster
mavisrooster

People who think it's ok to steal something just because it's easy are criminals.  There are good reasons for not securing WiFi networks and people have a right to expect privacy.  They can try to secure it, if they like but the onus is not on them to prevent others from commiting crimes.  I'm not saying Google intended to do this, but blaming the victims is wrong.


Read more: http://techland.time.com/2013/09/11/court-wont-let-google-off-the-hook-for-its-street-view-data-grab/#ixzz2eamNPsY2

syndactl
syndactl

@JoeMac4442 Leaving your wireless network unprotected is like leaving your car unlocked. It's a dumb thing to do - but someone will still be prosecuted for going into the car and taking your things. 

JoeMac4442
JoeMac4442

@mavisrooster Give me one good reason for not securing your WiFi. My point is that if people would take the very basic and easy precaution of securing their network, then their data would not be compromised whether by accident or by design. I am so sick of people who don't want to accept responsibility. Should Google have collected the data? Of course not, but if it truly was accidental, and they did not do anything with the data they collected, then no harm, no foul and the lawyers don't get rich.