In what is being called ‘Wi-Fi snooping’, internet search company Google is being sued for invading users’ privacy.
In a lawsuit filed this week, residents of the Pacific Northwest region in America are claiming that Google’s Street View vehicle – driving around neighbourhoods to capture images for their panoramic map application – obtained information from their Wi-Fi networks, therefore invading their privacy.
The residents, headed by Neil Mertz and Vicki Van Valin, claim that Google intentionally captured their Wi-Fi information, targeting unprotected networks and storing the data generated.
In a class action lawsuit, the complainants are demanding that Google pay each of them $10,000 or $100 per day in damages, which Google’s probably hefty professional indemnity insurance policy should easily be able to cover.
Nonetheless, Google is protesting their innocence, whilst not entirely refuting the allegations. The company confessed that although they did discover they had been intercepting and storing Wi-Fi data on Street View vehicle outings, doing so was entirely unintentional.
This case is poorly timed for Google, who are also facing criminal investigation from German prosecutors over similar claims that the company has been collecting Wi-Fi information without permission.