Google loses federal appeal regarding Street View. Most of the people who use Google are aware of a feature on the site known as Street View. Street View allows users to see real photos of maps they are searching, instead of drawings. To make this possible, Google uses vehicles known as Street View cars with camera poles mounted on their roofs to take photographs of roads all over the world. The photos not only capture images of roads, they also show viewers homes, stores and vehicles located on those streets at the time of the photo. Sounds like a useful tool, and innocent at that. However, as the cameras on the Street View cars were taking the photos of the roadways, they were also collecting “detailed information” and transmitting it over Wi-Fi networks they passed through. This information included emails, usernames, passwords, photos and documents. In the federal appeal filed in the case, Google was said to have wrongfully collected this personal information and, as a result, violated wiretap laws.
In their defense, Google argued that the Street View activities were not in violation of the wiretap law because data transmitted over Wi-Fi is considered a “radio connection” and is easily accessible to the public. The federal appeals court disagreed with their defense and sided with the lower court judge’s ruling. This is the first time an appeals court has ruled that it is illegal to “sniff out and collect” personal data from Wi-Fi networks supplying internet connections to people’s homes. This is also the first time a company, Google, has tried to do something like this.
Internet privacy experts are thrilled at the news, saying that the federal appeals court decision “is a tremendous victory for privacy rights.” In addition to that, Google is no longer allowed to “wi-spy.” Google has even offered an apology for their snooping, which happened between 2008 and the beginning of 2010.
Since the federal appeals court’s ruling, all of the plaintiffs whose privacy was compromised will be able to move forward with their case against the company. Due to the extensive reach of Google’s “snooping,” potential damages may amount to billions of dollars. In fact, earlier in 2013, Google settled a lawsuit involving 37 states for $7 million. In that case, Google was sued by the attorney general for invading privacy by collecting various data.
Since the appeals action was finalized, Google has disabled the equipment responsible for collecting the data and plans to destroy the data which was collected.
When you are involved in a federal appeal case, it is wise to have the help, experience and knowledge of a federal appeal lawyer. A good federal appeal lawyer will research past precedent and existing legal cases to find grounds for your appeal. This is necessary because a the federal appeals court will not simply reverse the lower court’s decision for frivolous reasons.
If you or someone you know would like to file a federal criminal appeal in the Federal appeals court or state appeal, it will be in their best interests to speak with an experienced federal appeal lawyer. Please call an appellate attorney at The Mace Firm for a free consultation today.