The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Tuesday that the Google went far beyond listening to accessible radio communication when they drew information from inside people's homes, during photographing neighborhoods for the search giant's popular "Street View" maps.
This means that attorneys suing Google are free to resume their case.
Google was sued for enabling its camera-carrying vehicles to collect emails
and Internet passwords while photographing neighborhoods for its "Street
"The payload data transmitted over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks that was
captured by Google included emails, usernames, passwords, images, and
documents," wrote the panel. "Even if it is commonplace for members of the
general public to connect to a neighbor's unencrypted Wi-Fi network, members
of the general public do not typically mistakenly intercept, store, and
decode data transmitted by other devices on the network."
Google has apologized for the snooping, promised to stop collecting the data
and said that collecting data from public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30
countries was inadvertent but not illegal.
Earlier this year Google also settled a lawsuit for $7 million after
attorney generals argued that that while Google vehicles drove through
neighborhoods between 2008 and March 2010 taking photos for the mapping
software, the company also collected data being transferred through
unsecured wireless networks.
Google says it has disabled the equipment that was collecting the data, and
agreed to destroy the information as soon as possible.