Feeds

US judge greenlights case against Google Wi-Fi slurp

'We place a priority on privacy', chips in Microsoft

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

A request by Google to throw out a lawsuit that alleges the company violated US federal wiretap law has been rejected by a judge in San Francisco.

This means Google can be sued for its Street View vehicles' Wi-Fi data slurp, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Plaintiffs from a number of states in the US are seeking class-action status in their lawsuit. They charge that Google fully intended to intercept information from wireless networks using its Street View cars.

It's alleged that Google violated the Federal Wiretap Act when it slurped up personal data including email messages and passwords from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

US District Judge James Ware said the plaintiffs had provided sufficient statements to allow their case to be heard in court.

Google's request to the judge to reject part of the lawsuit was granted, however. He threw out allegations that the company violated some state wiretap statutes as well as a unfair competition statute claim.

"We believe these claims are without merit and that the court should have dismissed the wiretap claim just as it dismissed the plaintiffs' other claims. We're still evaluating our options at this preliminary stage," Google said in a statement to the WSJ.

In the early hours of this morning, Microsoft's Windows Phone group program manager Reid Kuhn penned a well-timed blog post, in which he noted the "high level of public interest in how and why companies collect Wi-Fi access point information."

Redmond published "relevant portions of the source code" for its own data-slurping software in an effort to appear "transparent" about the company's methods.

To defend Microsoft's database that's being built to serve up location-based services for its Windows Phone 7 and Bing products, Kuhn pointed out that such a data slurp was industry-wide.

"The mobile phones we use for these surveys are only capable of observing the same data points about Wi-Fi access points that any phone, computer or other device connecting to Wi-Fi access points can observe," he said.

However, he also insisted that "the software does not intercept wireless data transmissions from consumers' computers (so called 'payload' data). The software neither observes nor records any information that may contain user content transmitted over a network. At Microsoft, we place a priority on privacy and take steps to help ensure that our products and services protect consumers’ information."

So that's alright then. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.