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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/2/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Internet search engine giant violated federal wiretapping law

Internet search engine giant Google, while powerful, is not above the law. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the company which leaves it facing numerous lawsuits. Google was found guilty of violating a federal wiretapping law by secretly collecting personal data while developing its Street View maps.

This particular debacle dates back to 2008, when Google first started capturing images of streets for its maps.

This particular debacle dates back to 2008, when Google first started capturing images of streets for its maps.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/2/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Google, lawsuits, Wiretapping Act


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The new turn in Google's long-running legal battle over the Street View data-collection practices could result in lawsuits for illegally snooping on people between 2008 and 2010 to improve its Street View data. The U.S. Wiretap Act protects the privacy of information on unencrypted in-home Wi-Fi networks.

This particular debacle dates back to 2008, when Google first started capturing images of streets for its maps. Google also accidentally collected data such as emails, images, usernames and passwords from open in-home Wi-Fi networks. Google collected the data to confirm locations of its Street View cars without users' consent. This violation first came to light in 2010 when Google publicly admitted -- and then apologized for its doubtful practices.

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While Google assured that the data would not be shared or used for any purposes, authorities from around the world started investigating the matter. Many European Union countries levied hefty fines. In March 2013, Google entered a settlement decree with Washington D.C. and 37 other states investigating the matter. The web giant agreed to destroy the data it collected over the years and pay $7 million as a fine.

Google has since been accused in many class-action lawsuits of gathering e-mails, user names and passwords while using a fleet of camera-equipped vehicles that collected images for Street View for their application Google Maps.

While Google has apologized for collecting the personal information, the company claims it didn't violate the law. Based in Mountain View, California, Google has previously faced government investigations around the world over its data-gathering practices.

As such the Wiretap Act bars the unauthorized interception of wire and electronic communications. Google argued before the Supreme Court that the Wi-Fi networks fit within an exception in the Wiretap Act for radio signals.

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