Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Class Action Privacy Suit Against Google Street View Given Go-Ahead by 9th Circ.

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a motion to dismiss a class-action invasion of privacy suit brought against San Francisco-based Google, Inc., concerning Street View.

In its 35-page decision in Joffe, et al. v. Google, Inc. (Case No. 11-17483), the appellate court shot down Google's claim that Street View's accumulation of data was protected by an exception to the Wiretap Act [18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2522]. "Surely," wrote 9th Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, "Congress did not intend to condone such an intrusive and unwarranted invasion of privacy when it enacted the Wiretap Act." 

The six-year-old Street View was supposed to supplement Google Maps by offering users images of locations, but Google's vehicles wound up in a ditch when its Wi-Fi antennas captured emails, user names, passwords and other documents from unencrypted wireless networks of businesses and residences.  The company settled a lawsuit with the Attorneys General of 38 states arising from the Street View transgression last March (see "TUOL" post 3/13/13) by agreeing to pay a $7 million fine.

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