Top Menu

Google Wiretap Case Heads Back to Appeals Court

Google raised a lot of eyebrows a few years back when it conducted the street view campaign. If you are a user of Google Maps, you would know what street view is. In addition to being able to see a particular location from a mile up, you can actually use street view to see a map location exactly how it looks on street level. This made Google Earth the go to choice for many people looking for real estate, or scooping out a particular location. It’s definitely a handy tool. Instead of looking at another wise antiseptic map, you actually get a feel for how it feels to live somewhere by doing street view. It gives you a 360 degree view whichever street or locale you’d like to see.

However awesome Google street view may be, the collection of this data costs some trouble for Google. It already provoked some movements for some sort of regulation when it was learned that Google street view was made possible when these cameras mounted on cars actually picked up WiFi transmissions. This is bad news because these cars recorded the unencrypted and unprotected WiFi transmissions coming out of people’s homes. So, we’re talking what kind of information was captured? We’re talking about documents, videos, passwords, usernames, and yes, personal emails. Serious data breach in the eyes of many critics. No wonder then that Google issued a public apology for this so called “inadvertent spying via WiFi”. Well apparently, this was not enough to satisfy ambitious lawyers. While the general perception of a typical attorney is that of an ambulance chase or somebody who is willing to make a mountain out of a molehill, they might have a case here. This is a serious issue involving serious information. As a result of this sad situation, Google was slapped with a class action law suit. The lawsuit has now reached its third year and the knight circuit Court of Appeals covering the major western states has issued a ruling that the that Google violated the United States wiretap act. This is a serious ruling. If the class designation is approved and a violation is found, this can result in a huge monetary damages for the company. No wonder Google is appealing the nocuous circuit Court of Appeals to reverse its ruling. It originally asked for all sitting members of this Court of Appeals to rehear the case. That request got turned down. However, a panel did rehear the case and affirmed its earlier decision.

It’s anyone’s guess where Google is going to turn to now. My guess is that there is going to be a lot of settlement talks before this case goes even higher. Regardless, it was a big mistake on Google’s part.