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Google Rebuffed by U.S. High Court on Privacy Lawsuit

By Greg Stohr
June 30, 2014 9:35 AM EDT 233 Comments
Google Inc., the world’s most-used Internet search engine, is accused in class-action lawsuits of gathering e-mails, user names and passwords while using a fleet of camera-equipped vehicles that drove around the country to collect images for Street View.
Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg
Google Inc., the world’s most-used Internet search engine, is accused in class-action lawsuits of gathering e-mails, user names and passwords while using a fleet of camera-equipped vehicles that drove around the country to collect images for Street View.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Google Inc. (GOOG), leaving the company to face lawsuits accusing it of violating a federal wiretapping law by secretly collecting personal data while developing its Street View maps.

The justices today left intact a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Wiretap Act protects the privacy of information on unencrypted in-home Wi-Fi networks.

Google, the world’s most-used Internet search engine, is accused in class-action lawsuits of gathering e-mails, user names and passwords while using a fleet of camera-equipped vehicles that drove around the country to collect images for Street View.

Google has apologized for collecting the personal information, while saying it didn’t violate the law. The Mountain View, California-based company has faced government investigations around the world over its data-gathering practices.

The Wiretap Act bars the unauthorized interception of wire and electronic communications. At the Supreme Court, Google argued that the Wi-Fi networks fit within an exception in the Wiretap Act for radio signals.

The case is Google v. Joffe, 13-1181.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Patrick Oster at poster@bloomberg.net Laurie Asseo, Mark McQuillan

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