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Google denied dismissal of wiretapping claims in Street View data snooping suit

Alexis Santos
September 10, 2013
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Google's already vowed to pony up $7 million and destroy passwords, emails and other data collected from unsecured WiFi networks through its Street View cars, but the damage won't stop there. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied the company's attempt to dismiss wiretapping claims in a class action suit over the debacle. Page and Co. argued their actions could pass under a wiretap exemption since data transmitted over WiFi is an electronic communication that's easily accessible to the public. However, the panel of judges didn't buy the search giant's argument. "Wi-Fi transmissions are not 'readily accessible' to the 'general public' because most of the general public lacks the expertise to intercept and decode payload data transmitted over a Wi-Fi network," Judge Jay Bybee explained. Secondly, the court ruled that the data transmitted over WiFi can't be classified as mostly audio, so it falls "outside of the definition of a 'radio communication.'"

"We are disappointed in the Ninth Circuit's decision and are considering our next steps," a Google spokesperson told Bloomberg. Now that Mountain View isn't getting off this hook, expect it to dish out more compensation soon.

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