More And More Lawsuits Filed Against Google Over Street View WiFi Slurping

from the evidence? dept

We've already covered one class action lawsuit filed against Google for its WiFi data slurping activities, and it appears that lots and lots of lawyers are trying to jump into the game. Eric Goldman has a list of at least seven such class action lawsuits that have been filed already. While we agree that Google's actions were bad, and do deserve some scrutiny, I find it difficult to believe these lawsuits can get anywhere. In the first one that we covered, we noted that one of the complaints was from a woman who sent confidential company data via her own, unsecured WiFi access point, and we couldn't figure out how that was Google's fault.

The real issue, though, is that it will be nearly impossible (if not impossible) for anyone in any of these lawsuits to first show that any of their specific data was recorded by Google, and secondly, that any harm came to them because of it. And, as we've noted multiple times, the courts seem to want to (a) see actual privacy being breached, rather than theoretical privacy being breached and (b) see actually harm come to the plaintiffs from those breaches. Without either of those things, it's hard to see these lawsuits getting very far.

As Goldman notes, not at all sarcastically:
It's remarkable that these lawyers were able to conclude to their satisfaction that their named plaintiffs in fact had their payload data captured in the process--presumably by confirming that payload data was actually being transmitted at the precise time the cars drove by. I'm not sure how I would research this issue sufficient to satisfy my Rule 11 obligation, but these attorneys surely didn't just assume Google captured their clients' payload data...did they?

Filed Under: class action, harm, lawsuits, wifi
Companies: google

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  1. identicon
    AggieTallBoy, 10 Jun 2010 @ 8:55am

    Disagree that it's bad...

    The uproar that's being generated over this is bordering on the ridiculous.

    Anyone operating a wifi device is doing so by virtue of an unlicensed radio transmitter (unlicensed, because the frequency range has been designated as open, and not requiring a license.)

    Protesting over someone driving by and collecting the data made available by your radio station is akin to protesting Verizon's "Can you hear me now" campaign to see where there's cellular coverage.

    You choose to operate this base station, with what I'd hope is the full knowledge that radio waves are free to travel, and anyone may receive them at any time, and you have no reasonable expectation to believe that they won't be. It's your responsibility to either shut off your wifi, encrypt the traffic, and accept that your transmissions WILL be received by people you don't want to.

    So they're collecting them into a database... whoop-de-doo... why on earth does anyone really care?

    Go for it Google!

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