Google’s Street View saga continues: The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case brought against Google which claims that the company illegally harvested certain types of personal data during the process of creating its Street View service.
In September of last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Google had violated user privacy under the federal Wiretap Act when it scooped up data including emails, user names, photos, chat logs, and passwords while creating its Street View service. A class-action lawsuit has been brought against the search giant for its data collection practices performed during the period of 2008 to 2010 when it used its own vehicles to drive around streets collecting images for the navigation service. The case centers around Google’s tapping into unencrypted wi-fi networks as its cars perused streets collecting information that the company admits was not used for any particular service. Google ceased such operations in 2010 when it publicly admitted to collecting such data in more than 30 countries, according to Reuters.
VISUAL CONTEXT: APPS THAT ACCESS PERSONAL INFORMATION
Google has since dealt with this international complaints by forking over millions of dollars to appease certain countries, and in the U.S., it made deals with 38 states involving a $7 million settlement and agreeing to destroy the data collected.
But the lawsuits continue to bombard the tech giant, and the Supreme Court officially supports the ruling that they may proceed. Google claims that its use of unencrypted wi-fi networks does not violate the Wiretap Act — an argument the Supreme Court clearly does not support. Its refusal to hear the case means no end in sight for Google’s Street View-based woes.
As most large technology companies — specifically ones dealing in communications tech — are finding, Edward Snowden’s leaks last year about the NSA’s data collection are having lasting effects on the world of digital privacy. Now, more than ever, privacy advocates and agencies are gunning for aggressive rulings and measures put in place to guard against heedless data retrieval practices. Google has been fighting the privacy war on a few fronts, even as it maintains that its users’ privacy is of utmost importance. The company recently lost a battle in Europe as the Court of Justice of the European Union issued a decision in the case of Google Inc. and Google Spain against the Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, the Spanish data protection authority. The decision requires search engines to provide citizens the opportunity to petition to have information published about them on the internet removed. As long as Google is at the forefront of search, and responsible for the storage of users’ personal information, these sticky cases are likely to be on its radar for the foreseeable future.