May 192010
 May 19, 2010  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Online

Karina Brown reports on what is likely to be only one of many lawsuits filed over Google’s revelation that it inadvertently collected personal information during its Street View operations:

In Portland, lead plaintiff Vicki Van Valin claims Google operates vehicles mounted with “wireless sniffers” that decode Wi-Fi data. She claims Google captured and decoded her Social Security number, banking information, medical records and other personal information, then stored the data on servers where “hundreds if not thousands” of Google employees could see it.

Read more on Courthouse News. A copy of the complaint can be found here. It seems that the plaintiffs claim that because they use an open wi-fi network, and because they transmit personal and sensitive information over it, and because Google has been on their street, then their personal information has been available, without their consent, to “hundreds of thousands” of Google employees.

A German court recently held that wi-fi users had an obligation to secure their network. We have no such law here, but I would pose this to the privacy law scholars who read this site: does a wi-fi user have a reasonable expectation of privacy if they do not secure their wi-fi network?

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