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Google must face Street View privacy suit after Supreme Court declines challenge

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Google will have to contend with a class-action lawsuit alleging that its Street View cars illegally snooped on private Wi-Fi networks after the US Supreme Court declined this morning to hear a challenge to dismiss the complaint. Google said in 2010 that its Street View cars had accidentally been collecting content sent over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks, explaining that it had stopped the practice as soon as it realized this was happening. Nonetheless, various lawsuits and investigations have popped up in the time since, with Google settling a major interstate investigation a little over a year ago.

Beyond that, Google has been caught up in a class-action suit over whether its actions violated the Wiretap Act. Google argued that Wi-Fi signals were exempt from the law because the act permits the interception of "radio communications," so long as they aren't encrypted. Though Wi-Fi falls under that definition on a technical level, a federal appeals court held last September that the act referred to "predominantly auditory broadcasts." Google had petitioned for the Supreme Court to review that decision, but with it declining today, Google will have to return to lower courts or settle the suit.