U.S. top court rejects Google bid to drop Street View privacy case

WASHINGTON Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:58am EDT

A Google search page is reflected in sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

A Google search page is reflected in sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected Google Inc's bid to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of violating federal wiretap law when it accidentally collected emails and other personal data while building its popular Street View program.

The justices left intact a September 2013 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to exempt Google from liability under the federal Wiretap Act for having inadvertently intercepted emails, user names, passwords and other data from private Wi-Fi networks to create Street View, which provides panoramic views of city streets.

The lawsuit arose soon after the Mountain View, California-based company publicly apologized in May 2010 for having collected fragments of "payload data" from unsecured wireless networks in more than 30 countries.

Google was accused of having collected the data while driving its vehicles through neighborhoods from 2008 to 2010 to collect photos for Street View.

In June 2011, U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Francisco allowed plaintiffs in several consolidated private lawsuits to pursue federal Wiretap Act claims against Google, while dismissing California state law claims.

Google already has agreed to pay $7 million to settle a probe into the matter involving 38 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. As part of that settlement, Google agreed to destroy data collected in the United States.

The case is Google Inc v. Joffe et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1181.

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Comments (1)
StevenN. wrote:
You have a glaring error in you write up:

“which refused to exempt Google from liability under the federal Wiretap Act for having inadvertently intercepted emails”

Should have been:

“which refused to exempt Google from liability under the federal Wiretap Act for having [intentionally] intercepted emails”

The collection of this data was ALWAYS part of this project and was presented and approved by Google’s higher level management. Calling it “inadvertently” is a dis-service to your readers.

Jun 30, 2014 11:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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