back to article Street View Wi-Fi slurp nightmare: US Supremes snub Google's appeal

Google isn't quite done dealing with the fallout of its Street View cars' Wi-Fi snooping scandal. The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the web giant's appeal to dismiss a class-action suit against it. Google will now have to face suit from 18 plaintiffs – Google v Joffe et al – who accuse the ads goliath of illegal …

Anonymous Coward

Yeah, right..

Amid outrage over the collection of the information, Google blamed it all on a bit of code written by a "rogue" engineer acting without the knowledge or approval of management.

Sure, and that's why that rogue bit of code had a perfectly working mass storage back end to deliver all that lovely data to..

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And don't forget...

That "rogue" engineer actually indicated what he was doing, documented it in presentations signed off by senior management. Of course the manager claimed he didn't know about what he was doing because he just signed the approval without actually reading what he was signing off on.

Give me a break.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Yeah, right..

The wheels later fell off that one rogue engineer claim.

C.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah, right..

Hmmm, wasn't it the same mass storage back end that was being used to map access points for geolocation purposes and maybe also to save all the StreetView imagery that was also being generated?

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Re: Yeah, right..

I believe the engineer's initials are N.S.A.

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It would be interesting to see how much money Google has had to fork over in total due to this "rogue engineer"

I'm guessing it isn't enough to be certain that no more "rogue engineers" engage in legally shady practices.

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Anonymous Coward

Should have...

...outsourced it to the NSA. No questions asked then.

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Outsourcing

"...outsourced it to the NSA.."

In fact, NSA might have outsourced to them. Now NSA is paying the fines for them, so that, no question is asked.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: Change of motto

It's "don't be evil"!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Change of motto

You missed the punctuation they quietly added later. It now reads: "Don't; be evil."

Examples of correct usage:

"How should we handle EU data protection requests?" - Don't; be evil.

"Should we treat the indie music labels equally?" - Don't; be evil.

"What about protecting user privacy?" - Don't; be evil.

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too Googley ?

What about all the data chrome sends back to their HQ?

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Honestly, the odds of sensitive information being transmitted en claire over a WiFi while a StreetView vehicle was in range is miniscule.

I would be far more worried about the signal being accessible to local teenagers, who might have far more time to monitor and possibly weaker moral strictures.

I discussed these issues some time ago in my blog, Ruminations. The relevant entry is "Google Street View and Unencrypted WiFi: Not a Hazard" at http://www.rlgsc.com/blog/ruminations/google-street-view-and-unencrypted-wifi.html.

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Anonymous Coward

It makes you wonder what exactly the plaintiffs are suing for?

They surely wouldn't have access to the actual information captured and even if they did and managed to work out which packets they sent, the chance of there being something in them to cause them harm or distress must be miniscule (if they were that savvy they probably wouldn't have been using an open network in the first place).

Could it possibly be just an excuse for a lawyer to have a massive payout from Google?

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Anonymous Coward

"Honestly, the odds of sensitive information being transmitted en claire over a WiFi while a StreetView vehicle was in range is miniscule"

It looks like you are quite happy turning a blind eye to a crime. Do you also approve of criminals "falling down the stairs" while in custody.

Where do you draw the line?

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Whilst there is a vague possibility this might be a crime, there are, in effect, no victims - no money or possessions lost by anyone except Google. All that has been lost is some vague concept of privacy by people who didn't secure their networks.

Unsecured networks, people try and log in to them all the time for more nefarious purposes than Google ever had. No class action against them.

So, not a particular bad crime and i really don't understand the issue.

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obligatory police response

The suspect was not pushed down the stairs, the poor bstrd tripped and fell...

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> Unsecured networks, people try and log in to them all the time for more

> nefarious purposes than Google ever had. No class action against them.

You don't even have to "log in" to unsecured networks... just select them in the list and click Connect.

Having a map of free WiFi locations is highly desirable.

I would like to see the plaintiffs prove Google has possession of any private data gleaned from documenting those locations.

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Silver badge
Boffin

Wow...

First, its against the law for you to connect to a network without permission to do so. (Theft of Service)

Second... you get what you deserve. (You never know who's watching...)

Third, there was evidence in the snarfed data that contained personal information including passwords.

(yes some systems still send passwords and connection data in plain text.)

But back to your point about mapping open wi-fi...

It would essentially be a 'free lunch' for google to track your android devices and then piggyback on unsecured wi-fi to send that information back to google for analysis.

Do you not see how illegal this would be?

Of course we'll never know if they 1) Tried this. 2) intended to try this...

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Silver badge

No Shock Here...

Google's arguments fell flat because even if you don't secure or know how to secure your network, there's an expectation of privacy.

If you look at SCOTUS decisions going back to the 60's where there's a reasonable expectation of privacy, the courts will always favor it.

Google would be best served by quickly and quietly settling this case.

Expect to see a 10Q filing on the cost of the lawsuit and settlement.

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Silver badge

Re: No Shock Here...

Wow...

I guess commentards who down voted haven't looked at relevant case history.

It gets down to what is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Walking naked on to a bus in the middle of the day and they trying to sue someone for taking a snap... claiming that they violated your privacy? Sorry that's going to fall flat.

Fighting the charges that you got caught listening to your neighbor's 900mhz analog phone. (Again showing my age), claiming that since they were broadcasting over the open air between the handset and base station that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy? Good luck fighting that one.

It goes back to the SCOTUS case where a guy when in to a public payphone to place a call to his bookie in another state. What he didnt know was that the Feds had set up a wire tap, but failed to get a warrant.

SCOTUS tossed the conviction because the recording was obtained illegally. The suspect had a reasonable expectation of privacy by going in to a phone booth to place a call.

That was in the 60's and there are cases going forward that show how SCOTUS feels about protecting one's privacy.

WAR DRIVING, even done by a corporate giant. Is still illegal.

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Anonymous Coward

The Land of Peretual Indulgences

On past form, expect Google to waly away by cutting a deal whereby they pay a relatively small monetary Indulgence and have their sins slate wiped clean.

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Devil

"We're disappointed that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case"

Oh, I'm so sorry you didn't get your way. </sarc>

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Joke

oblig. yes. minister. quote.

"That's another one of those irregular verbs isn't it? I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he's being charged under section 2A of the OSA".

Life imitates art, bis...

P.

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Of course it'll end in an out of court settlement.... along with strict nda's.

Unless their lawyers expect to see enough to complete their retirement fund by dragging it through court.

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Supremes to Google

Sit in the corner wearing a dunce cap until the Lower Court says it thinks you learned a lesson.

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