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US Supreme Court clears a path to lawsuit over Google’s Street View wiretaps

An orderly jam forms
Tue Jul 01 2014, 10:36
Google Street View car

GOOGLE WILL HAVE TO FACE a lawsuit over its Street View snooping snafu in the States after the US Supreme Court refused to hear its appeal to throw the complaint out.

The Supreme Court was not sympathetic to Google's appeal for dismissal and let stand an appeals court ruling from 2013 that will allow the firm to be sued for violating wiretapping laws.

Google has already submitted to an $7m fine in the US and promised to delete all the data that it picked up by mistake.

Google got itself into a mess all over the world when it was revealed that its drive-by mapping vehicles were grabbing WiFi information that was personal and none of its business.

It has apologised over the caper already, and been censured for it. Germany handed Google a €145,000 fine, and France took a €100,000 bite from its cash reserves. In the UK it escaped a fine, but did get a stern glance from the Information Commissioner's Office. Speaking about that case in 2013 Google said that the privacy line is a hard one to walk.

"We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue," it said. "The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it. We cooperated fully with the ICO throughout its investigation, and having received its order this morning we are proceeding with our plan to delete the data."

We have asked it for comment on the US Supreme Court's decision. So far it has not been forthcoming. The case is Google Inc v. Joffe et al (PDF). µ


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