It's a good thing for Google that have all of the money in the world. A federal judge has announced that the Silicon Valley giant can be sued for any damages related to the data grabbed by its Street View cars. As you may recall, earlier this year, it was determined that when the mapping machines passed by areas with unsecured WiFi networks, the hardware mounted on top of the roofs was inadvertently able to snag passwords, emails and a whole host of other information that was unknowingly ripe for the picking.

According to Wired, Google is going on the defensive and claims that unsecured WiFi networks are akin to radio communications. Anyone can grab a radio signal out there, and Google believes grabbing onto an open network is similar. Google has also stated that it was initially unaware of the data being snatched up by its roving fleet.

The implications from this case could prove very interesting for both Google and anyone using an unsecured WiFi network. We'll bring you updates as the story develops, and we'll be sure to change the password on the Autoblog router. (ProTip: Don't go with #12345, even if it matches the combination on your luggage).


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      DivisibleByZer0
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who's trying to sue for damages? How are you going to prove that Google took your data and that you were "damaged" by breach if you can't even set a password.
      Mike M
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ooo a space ball reference :D
      Twinkie
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is your choice to "lock" up your network. If you choose not to, you should not be protected under any law.
        mathiaswegner
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Twinkie
        Or, to put it another way, if you don't lock your front door, it's not stealing for your neighbor to take your stuff.
      Curtis
      • 3 Years Ago
      Internet provider - ($49 bucks a month) network router - ($100 one time purchase) decent Ethernet cables - ($2 shipped) taking the time to create a password for your network - (a couple minutes of your day) Thank you lazy people for giving us free wifi hotspots all over the world.
      _Los
      • 3 Years Ago
      If users decide not to secure their own network, nobody else can be held accountable much less liable. Google did nothing more than any other person could do driving down the street. It's called Wardriving, get over it. I'm willing to bet a good percentage of the people who are crying foul over this have all their email with Google anyway.
      Making11s
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is it just me, or are the courts blatantly wrong more often these days? If you didn't take 2 minutes to set up a password, it's your own damn fault if someone goes on your network.
        vectornull
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Making11s
        Part of the issue is that the AVERAGE person doesn't even know there IS such a thing as wifi password protection. Further, when someone's OWN ISP posts the instructions for the WRONG model/version of the cable modem they've just installed, it can be a challenge, to say the least. I think what people are failing to realize here is that there was NO PURPOSE for google to be sniffing wifi. The car's purpose was to take pictures of the roads, NOT to PULL AND RECORD private citizen's information. THAT is the heart of the case.
          vectornull
          • 3 Years Ago
          @vectornull
          oh, and lastly, all this is saying is that google can be sued. Doesn't mean they'll loose the case...
          vectornull
          • 3 Years Ago
          @vectornull
          Here's another way to look at it: how would you all feel if it were a U.S. government vehicle pulling your data? I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of the people who think it's ok to swipe someone else's data would have a change of heart.
      superset5
      • 3 Years Ago
      oh geeze. so i guess people who steal their neighbors wi-fi can get sued too? so dumb
        Curtis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @superset5
        honestly, lock up your wifi or be prepared to share it.
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ya know guys, just because there is a CAR involved in a story, doesn't necessarily mean its really car related news! I could see Engadget covering this issue... not so much AB. I'm waiting for AB to cover the story that Porsche Design came out with a new HDD or SSD case.
        Curtis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        ya know guy, just because it's an article that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with automobiles doesn't mean you have to read and even comment on it.
      gork
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Google is going on the defensive and claims that unsecured WiFi networks are akin to radio communications." Well, that's because that is exactly what WiFi is, a wireless radio signal broadcast. If I am listening to an internet streaming audio station via WiFi, the analogy is doubly reinforced. If I'm using bluetooth to my computer using WiFi with WiMax to the internet, listening to the radio, they're ALL radio broadcasts.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Jamie
        • 3 Years Ago
        Bad analogy. They lost because the signal is encrypted and they were using equipment to break that encryption. If you want to use the satellite signal analogy, it would be more like free-to-air signals. It is perfectly legal to pick up satellite feeds that are not encrypted (there is a whole hobby devoted to finding these signals). It should be the same with WiFi. If you are broadcasting an unencrypted and unsecured signal, then you have to expect that anyone can can pick up and read the contents of that signal. It should only be illegal to read the contents of the signal if you are doing so by hacking the encryption or breaking the passwords.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
    • Load More Comments