WASHINGTON, June 7, 2010 – A class action lawsuit filed May 17 accuses Google of violating federal privacy and data acquisition laws, and asks that Google pay up to $100,000 to each individual from whom data was taken. The suit was filed by an Oregon woman and a Washington man in a Portland, Ore., federal court. The firm is also facing civil suits in Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany Spain and Italy.
Google’s “sniffing” technology was in its Street View vehicles, and gathered the information from unprotected wireless networks while driving up and down U.S. streets. Google has admitted that the vehicles sniffed basic wireless network information, including the network and router identifiers.
However, Google says the purpose was to map those networks, which would then be used by mobile devices such as smartphones to pinpoint their locations in Google’s mapping services. They also claimed that the code which grabbed data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks was added to the Street View vehicles’ data sniffers by mistake.