back to article US plaintiffs can seek damages over Street View data slurp - court

A US appeals court has rejected Google's efforts to dismiss a lawsuit over the data it grabbed from Wi-Fi networks while collecting snapshots for use in its Street View program. The Chocolate Factory is being sued by a number of plaintiffs who want to hold it accountable under the Wiretap Act for the data it intercepted from …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Even if it is commonplace for members of the general public to connect to a neighbour's unencrypted Wi-Fi network, members of the public do not typically mistakenly intercept, store, and decode data transmitted by other devices on the network," Judge Jay Bybee said."

    So the judge's infant child would be "baby Bybee"? And when the judge leaves for work in the morning, he says to the infant, "Bye-bye, baby Bybee"?

    That would be a happy family!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If the kid is Jay Jr.

      Then it would be "Bye-bye, baby Jay Bybee"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NOW let them try to claim non-jurisdiction

    And AC 15:55, did you really have to put that Bay City Rollers song back into my head?

  3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Blame the NSA

    For all we know, the NSA required them to slurp this data, but Google cannot say so because of a secret national security letter.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Blame the NSA

      Wow, you had to work that in to it didn't you.

      Why didn't just go ahead and say that Google is really an evil front for the CIA?

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Blame the NSA

        Doesn't it suck when the tinfoil hat brigade end up being validated?

        As usual, Jon Stewart fucking crushes it, months before the NSA scandals even started. Add the NSA shit in know what? You - nor I - nor anyone else gets to mock the tinfoil hatters regarding the US government for some time.

        Power corrupts; it seems to have happened with some regularity in the USA. Apathy and denial are absolutely the wrong reactions.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We are Google, and we are immune to your laws"

    Didn't work this time, did it?

    Slap them hard in the wallet, boys. Slap them hard.

  5. poopypants

    What damages?

    Oh right, this is the United States we're talking about. Severe emotional trauma. That should do it.

    1. stephajn

      Re: What damages?

      Well what else is there? Bunch of whiney babies.....I think I feel a case of emotional trauma every time someone wins a lawsuit over emotional trauma. I want to sue over this but I don't know how..... Being Canadian, I wasn't taught how to sue people in Grade 1...

  6. M Gale


    Would have been nice if the court would have said something like "just delete the data and we're happy."

    I can see this turning into something similar to PPI and whiplash injury claims, where an increasingly small percentage of claimants were actually mis-sold PPI or really do have whiplash. Really, you just shouted your unencrypted username and password into the street with a megaphone, and it's Google you want to sue for it?

    To anybody that does: Get a brain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yawn

      "Would have been nice if the court would have said something like 'just delete the data and we're happy.'"

      And that would prove what, exactly? That, as usual, a corporation does a misdeed (violate the wire tap laws) and gets only a slap on the hand because you don't feel that anyone should be held responsible.

      Corporations only understand one thing: MONEY. I hope they sue the pants of Google and get a nice big paycheck out of it - it is the ONLY way to prevent (the equivalent of) corporate spying in the future.

      And if you don't believe that...I feel sorry for your naivete.

      1. M Gale

        Re: Yawn

        See that would assume that I regard wardriving as inherently wrong in some way. I really don't see what they did that's so awful. Drove around with a boatload of cars running Airodump? Well fuck me, lock 'em up, throw away the key.

        Or alternatively, lern 2 WPA2. It'll stop Google from snarfing your passwords, AND the hackers that are probably already raping your unencrypted connection.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yawn

          @ m gale - oh dear, here we go again playing 'lets blame the victim'.

          If we follow your logic we may as well allow thieves to avoid consequences if they return the goods they stole. After all, you haven't really lost anything and you should have had better locks, no?

          1. M Gale

            Re: Yawn

            Except this isn't a house being burgled. It's a router that has been left in public mode.

            Surprise surprise, the public used it. Victim my arse. Encrypt your router. No ifs, no buts, get it done. Why the hell should the courts back you up because you've thrown your network open to the public to use and they've used it?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Yawn

              Perhaps a jury will agree with you.

            2. Harry

              Re: Yawn

              If somebody opens your passenger door while you are stuck at traffic lights and steals your satnav, it is still theft in the eyes of the law.

              Google's *real* motto is only to do evil when you think you can get away with it.

              1. M Gale

                Re: Yawn

                What is it with crap analogies?

                It isn't a car. It isn't a house. It's a router. Lots of routers in fact. That were left in public mode. The public used them. This is not difficult to understand.

                You want another crap analogy? You just bought a bus, stuck "10A Liverpool" on the front of it, painted it up in Arriva's livery, stopped at the bus stop, opened the door, shouted "don't worry everyone, it's free today", and now you're acting all surprised that you got a boatload of passengers expecting to find themselves in Liverpool City Centre via Rainhill.

                Unencrypted routers are public routers. Get that through your skull, and encrypt yours if you don't like that. It's not hard. As for exploits, that's a different kettle o' fish, and quite clearly a case of trespass if you've done anything more than ping the thing and ask for its capabilities (which is, duh, just what Google did). Encrypted routers are private routers.

                Why the hell do idiots make things so much harder than they need to be? And why are so many supposedly smart people acting like complete fuckwits over this? Kick Google because it's Google? Yeah, real smart move, that.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yawn

          So you are unfamiliar with "reaver" then???

          WPA2 doesn't make a shit of difference if your router has the particular vunrability that reaver exploits.

          And a lot do!!! Netgear especially! VM customers, beware!!!

          Turn on MAC filtering, change the default passwords and disable WPS.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FYI -

    In the U.S. anyone can file a lawsuit aka "seek damages". To actually obtain any form of monetary compensation the plaintiff must prove that they suffered real, not perceived damages or financial losses. That's going to be a very tall hurdle in these cases and even if some low level court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, more than likely an appeals court would reverse the decision and the plantiff is SOL.

    1. cortland

      Re: FYI -

      A tall hurdle and a "fer piece, Sam."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are all Americans this dumb?

    I mean the real fault here is un encrypted Wifi.

    Also it's worth pointing out that the street view car would have to have been driving by at the EXACT moment that a private document was being sent across an unencrypted connection.

    Quite clearly there are two faults the end user is responsible for.

    1/ They left their wifi unsecured.

    2/ They sent something private on a open http connection.

    Google just happened to be driving by at the time, but that's really the least of their worries....

    Google didn't browse their hard drives as this article seems to imply. "Google's Street View cars collected data from unsecured wireless networks in 30 countries, including emails, user names, passwords, pictures and documents." That's utter nonsense.It just captured wiresharks of stuff in the air at the snapshot in time.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Are all Americans this dumb?

      Try to pay attention to what you are reading:-

      "Even if it is commonplace for members of the general public to connect to a neighbour's unencrypted Wi-Fi network, members of the public do not typically mistakenly intercept, store, and decode data transmitted by other devices on the network," Judge Jay Bybee said.

      So rather than just happening to record a busload of incidental data, Google decoded it.

      Members of the public are not required by law to encrypt anything or secure their wi-fi but Google and others are required by law not to snoop and decode and record private information no matter how poor the security is.

      Peeping Toms looking through uncurtained windows are breaking the law, so is Google.

      1. M Gale

        Re: Are all Americans this dumb?

        However, sticking an antenna out of the window, setting your CB rig to channel 19 and hoovering up every transmission in a 5-10 mile radius is not illegal.

        And neither should wardriving be.

        1. cortland

          Re: Are all Americans this dumb?

          CB Radio is exempt from the Privacy provisions of US law. So is Amateur Radio, and neither are allowed to use encryption to MAKE comms private.

          --... ...--

  9. Lostintranslation

    I thought at the time that there was far more to this than a "rogue engineer" adding a bit of code. I was right - it was an entire agency adding code.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Tinfoil haaaats!!1!

      Seriously, I hope for the NSA that they have better means of gathering data than randomly grabbing 20 seconds of data from unsecured wifi networks while the car is passing in the street. I cannot possibly imagine how useful this data could be to anyone.

      1. Eguro

        Re: Tinfoil haaaats!!1!

        They have advanced algorithms in there. From a snapshot of data they can recreate any data that has ever been processed by that router.

        They then take that knowledge and through a Signal-Delicifier turn it into cake.

        1. Steve the Cynic

          Re: Tinfoil haaaats!!1!

          Um, er, no, I can't help myself. I gotta say it.

          The cake is a lie!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The U.S. judicial system?

    The U.S. judicial system is about paid liars making money. All the players get paid money for pushing paper no matter who wins or loses. In class action suits the paid liars reap windfall compensation because they get millions in legal fees while a plantiff gets some meaningless meager settlement. It's always about the money for the paid liars.

  11. silent_count

    There's profits to be made

    Your honour, not only do I reject this so-called noise complaint, I'd also ike to sue those who complained because they were listening to my "private" music files. The fact that I was broadcasting said files both unencrypted and loudly enough to be heard across the street is immaterial. I feel so violated.

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