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Judge rules against Google in Street View 'Wi-Spy' lawsuit

Gregg Keizer | July 1, 2011
Denies motion to dismiss federal complaints that Google's mapping cars snatched passwords, emails from home wireless networks.

"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," a Google representative said in an emailed statement today. "We're still evaluating our options at this preliminary stage."

However, a trade group co-sponsored by Microsoft, eBay, Intel, Oracle and others applauded Ware's ruling.

"Google has been a bad actor in our industry when it comes to privacy," Jonathan Zuck, the president of the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), said by email Thursday. "We have long been aware of the negative impact Google has had on consumers' faith in the security of their online privacy. It is our hope that the courts continue to treat the Wi-Spy matter seriously so consumer confidence may be restored."

"Wi-Spy" is the name some, including ACT, have pinned on the Street View debacle.

ACT has regularly voiced anti-Google opinions when the search giant has been in legal hot water. Last week, for example, the group said it supported the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) investigation into possible antitrust violations by Google, saying, "Government intervention in the case of Google is what is best for the technology space" and calling the Microsoft rival's behavior "reckless."

Ironically, the ACT was a very vocal backer of Microsoft when the company was accused by European Union antitrust regulators of abusing its monopoly position.

Ware also dismissed the plaintiffs' charges that Google violated California business practice laws, but gave the plaintiffs until Aug. 1 to amend their complaint.

The demand by the 22 plaintiffs that their lawsuit be granted class-action status is still pending.

"This is just another in a whole long series of cases that, case after case, show that the ECPA is a complicated statute that's very hard to understand," said Dempsey of the CDT. "Congress needs to respond."


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