Supreme Court Rejects Google’s Appeal

Lawsuits allege it violated federal wiretapping law

The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected an appeal by Google, "leaving the company to face lawsuits accusing it of violating a federal wiretapping law by secretly collecting personal data while developing its Street View maps," according to Businessweek.

The court upheld a previous ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that protection under the U.S. Wiretap Act applies to information found on unencrypted in-home WiFi Networks. The class-action suit accuses Google "of gathering emails, user names and passwords while using a fleet of camera-equipped vehicles that drove around the country to collect images for Street View," Businessweek reported. Google has apologized for collecting the information, claiming in 2010 that it was done by mistake, but has argued that "WiFi networks fit within an exception in the Wiretap Act for radio signals." 

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google reached a $7 million settlement with 38 states last year over the data collection. The current class-action suit, Google v. Joffe, was filed on behalf of individuals whose information was collected by Google.

The court's decision comes on the heels of a series of technology decisions that have left many critical of the justices' "baffling tech illiteracy," said a report in Salon. Google, meanwhile, faces probes from other countries in which it collected Street View data, in addition to this class-action suit.