In May 2010, Google publicly revealed that the vehicles it uses to take panoramic shots of streets around the world had been accidentally intercepting and storing payload data from unsecured wireless networks. Analysis of the data done in various regions showed that the data included private communications of Internet users.
Since then, regulators around the world have instructed Google on what they should do about the accidental hoarding of the data, with pretty much all ordering it be destroyed as soon as possible.
On the litigation front, Google is facing a lawsuit which alleges it violated federal wiretap laws by intercepting payload data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in the United States. It had asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the lawsuit - finding that Google was exempt from liability under the act - but the effort has failed.
Judge Jay Bybee wrote that Wi-Fi communications do not qualify as a radio communication, or electronic communication that is readily accessible to the general public.
"Even if it is commonplace for members of the general public to connect to a neighbor's unencrypted Wi-Fi network," Bybee wrote, "members of the general public do not typically mistakenly intercept, store, and decode data transmitted by other devices on the network."
A spokesperson for Google said it was disappointed with the decision, and that it was considering its next steps.
Written by: James Delahunty @ 13 Sep 2013 22:01