Compliance Management, Privacy

Google wants Supreme Court to rule on Street View privacy case

After asking an appeals court to reconsider a significant ruling on Wi-Fi traffic interception, Google now wants the nation's highest court to hear the matter.

The tech giant filed a petition for a “writ of certiorari,” last Thursday, which beckons the authority of the Supreme Court to review, or reverse, the decision of a lower court.

Last September, a federal appeals court ruled that Google's data-collecting practices while using its Street View mapping service, between 2008 and 2010, was not exempt from federal wiretap law.

While Google admitted in June 2010 that it mistakenly siphoned users' Wi-Fi communications in an attempt to populate Street View photos, which provided users panoramic, street-level views of geographic locations – the company argued that unencrypted Wi-Fi data should be categorized for legal purposes as a “radio communication.”

Such communications are exempt from Wiretap Act protections.

In a shrewd move, Google reasoned that the September 2013 ruling could have an negative impact on individuals likely to intercept Wi-Fi data on unsecure networks, including security researchers.

With its latest petition to have the Supreme Court step in, Google continues to fight the ongoing lawsuit, Joffe v. Google.

According to court documents, Google's Street View service collected about 600 gigabytes of data transmitted over Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries. Vehicles, dispatched around the world by Google, captured the Street View payload data such as personal emails, documents, videos and login credentials of unsuspecting users.

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.