Quantcast

Monday, July 28, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 3 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Google illegally gathered private data via Wi-Fi during mapping project, appeals court rules

By Associated Press

POSTED:



SAN JOSE, Calif. » A federal appeals court said Google wrongly collected people's personal correspondence and online activities through their Wi-Fi systems as it drove down their streets with car cameras shooting photos for its Street View mapping project.

The ruling that the practice violates wiretap laws sends a warning to other companies seeking to suck up vast amounts of data from un-encrypted Wi-Fi signals.

"The payload data transmitted over un-encrypted Wi-Fi networks that was captured by Google included emails, usernames, passwords, images and documents," wrote the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a report released Tuesday.

Google had argued that its activities were exempt from the wiretap law because data transmitted over a Wi-Fi network is a "radio communication" and is "readily accessible to the public."

Not so, wrote the judges, agreeing with an earlier federal judge's ruling.

"Even if it is commonplace for members of the general public to connect to a neighbor's un-encrypted Wi-Fi network, members of the general public do not typically mistakenly intercept, store and decode data transmitted by other devices on the network," they said.

Google's Street View cars can be spotted with pole-mounted cameras on their roofs, photographing along roadways the world over. The photos then show up on Google's popular Street View map option, where viewers can virtually scroll along a street past homes, cars and shops, all captured in photographs.

But unbeknownst to passers-by, those cameras weren't just making photos. They were also collecting detailed information transmitted over Wi-Fi networks they passed through.

Privacy experts and industry watchers said this was the first time an appeals court has ruled that it's illegal for a company to sniff out and collect private information from the Wi-Fi networks that provide Internet service to people at home. Google is also the first publicly known company to try.

"This appeals court decision is a tremendous victory for privacy rights. It means Google can't suck up private communications from people's Wi-Fi networks and claim their Wi-Spying was exempt from federal wiretap laws," said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy proj­ect director. "Because Google's Wi-Spy activity was so extensive, the potential damages could amount to billions of dollars."

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of Electronic Privacy Information Center, called it "a landmark decision for Internet privacy."






 Print   Email   Comment | View 3 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(3)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
manakuke wrote:
Google is evil?
on September 11,2013 | 03:30AM
Larry01 wrote:
Would have been nice if the article explained why Google was collecting this information in the first place.
on September 11,2013 | 07:30AM
cojef wrote:
Data mining all the time. Ever notice that after making a search or purchase on the Internet for a specific item, the next time you are reading the SA, look at the ads on the page you are on and certainly you will find ad on similar products you searched or bought.
on September 11,2013 | 11:11AM
IN OTHER NEWS
Latest News/Updates
Blogs
Political Radar
`My side’

Political Radar
‘He reminds me of me’

Bionic Reporter
Needing a new knee

Warrior Beat
Monday musings

Small Talk
Burning money

Political Radar
On policy

Warrior Beat
Apple fallout