Privacy violation

Google loses US appeal over Street View data collection

Caroline Baldwin

The US Supreme Court has rejected Google’s appeal that it has no privacy case to answer over its Street View data collection programme and the internet giant will now face legal action.

Back in 2010, Google publicly apologised for accidentally collecting personal data through open WiFi networks while running its Street View programme. The Street View vehicles collected personal data when they drove past the houses of people with unencrypted WiFi networks.

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According to newspaper USA Today, Google is accused of breaking the US Wiretap Act, which bans the interception of electronic communications. Google had argued it was not illegal to collect radio communications or any “form of electronic communication readily accessible to the general public”.

But the US Supreme Court refused to dismiss the case.

This is not the first time the internet company has been in court for breaking privacy laws. At the end of June Google began removing search results following a court order from the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ had upheld the right to be forgotten online and ordered Google to remove search links to a 15-year-old newspaper article about a Spanish man’s bankruptcy.

The court ruled that individuals could demand the deletion of “irrelevant or outdated” information from search results and that Europeans could seek redress from the courts if search engine firms failed to respond.

In January, France fined Google €150,000 for breaking a national law on tracking and storing user information.

French privacy watchdog CNIL mounted a campaign to force Google to rewrite its controversial 2012 privacy policy to align with EU data protection laws. 

Additionally, Google Glass is at the centre of a wearable technology debate, with law firms claiming it is intrusive and causes privacy problems for employers.


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