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Judge Allows Lawsuit over Google’s Street View to Move Forward

July 15, 2011
Colson Hicks Eidson

If your home appears on Google’s popular Street View service, it is because one of Google’s vehicles mapped your street and may have collected personal information from surrounding Wi-Fi networks in the process. This allegation is the basis of a federal class action lawsuit against Google, which a San Francisco judge allowed to move forward last week. The lawsuit includes plaintiffs from nine different states.

The class action complaint alleges that Google violated the Federal Wiretap Act by collecting information from unsecured wireless networks, such as those in coffee shops across the country. Many people also use unsecured Wi-Fi networks in their homes. As part of its defense, Google said that anyone could have accessed the unsecured data. Google initially said that collection of the data was a mistake and that it did nothing with the information.

Google also said one of its engineers was to blame for the security breach. It believes the class action suit is without merit and that the judge should have dismissed it. However, the federal judge said that just because a Wi-Fi network is unencrypted does not give anyone, including Google, the right to access it.

This is not the first legal dust-up over Google’s Street View. France recently fined Google approximately $145,000 for similar privacy breaches.

Colson Hicks Eidson – Florida lawyers