In the consolidated cases against Google for intercepting some unencrypted data passing over open WiFi networks as part of its Street View operation, the judge is now looking to determine if basic packet sniffing is the equivalent of an illegal wiretap
. Google, and one would imagine, most people who understand the technology, are arguing that's silly. The nature of WiFi is that it takes the unencrypted bits and makes them wide open to anyone on that network. That's how the technology is designed
. If you don't like it, you encrypt. Arguing, retroactively, that seeing the data that is put in the open on purpose is somehow an illegal wiretap seems silly, but that's what the case hinges on. Hopefully, the judge is either technologically savvy enough to understand this, or can be well educated in the nature of how an open WiFi network works... Otherwise, a lot of people may be facing wiretapping charges for activity that many people consider perfectly normal on a network.