Google Maps Trekker

Google is petitioning the Supreme Court to dismiss one of the Google Street View lawsuits.

Google Street View vehicles would scan unencrypted and open Wifi networks to help find the Street View cars location, which led to cries of privacy violations, and ultimately lawsuits.

While the FCC cleared them of any unlawful activity, a class-action lawsuit was pushed forward. Google is asking the Supreme Court to stop the lawsuit and have the charges dropped.

We're not the Supreme Court, and therefore not able to determine the validity of any of these claims, but we can suggest that if you protect your Wifi network on your own it can prevent anything like this from happening.

Source: Wired


Reader comments

Google asking Supreme Court to put an end to Street View class action lawsuit


What's funny is that a local business moved down the street a bit but when you use Google Maps, it shows your location on WiFi as in the old spot even though the map clearly shows the business name in their new location... So really all it's doing is collecting the MAC address of the router and storing its GPS coordinates at the time. Heaven forbid the cars actually USE this data as Bible and turn left at an intersection that doesn't exist!

Google Maps uses this data to try and help get a GPS fix on the device when it's having trouble getting data from the actual GPS chip.

don't want your house/business to appear in Street View? just email Google and they'll mask it...
they did it within 24 hours of my request.....

or do what the Germans did... Google discontinued Street View in the entire Deutschland!

Depending on your country's laws, war driving isn't illegal. For example, in Canada, war driving is completely legal since you didn't break into someone's network. If you leave your network open or unencrypted (which is pretty much open), then the onus would be on you for not encrypting the network. In which case, Google is the least of your worries.

No, it is more like leaving your front door open, then whining because someone simply looked inside.

Totally agree. It's not like they're snooping around your network looking for private files. It IS the equivalent of opening the front door, peeking inside, then leaving while taking note that someone does indeed live at the house.

The difference? You don't have to unlock your Wi-Fi every time you connect. In that regard a Wi-Fi network is more secure than your house after locking it the one time. No need to rely on faulty human memory. Just set it and forget it. :P

Nifty Food BBM Channel C003262E5

Unless they download child porn on your un-encrypted network. Then it would be like someone throwing pictures of nude children through your open window.

Then be responsible and shut your window. It's not like you don't know the risks of leaving your home or your network unprotected and open to anyone who passes by. It may be morally wrong or unethical for people to walk in, but you also know that those who do are not concerned with such things, and the responsibility for your well-being is on you, not them.

Putting aside for a moment how meaningless your apprent distinction is, does it really change how you would react to someone in your home? Whether they are there to take your tv, or to simply look around, chances are someone is going to the hospital.
The point, which you missed, is that a person shouldn't have to lock up their items (or their wifi) in order to have a reasonable expectation of respect for their property rights. Granted, it would be a mistaken expectation, as there are always those who choose to exercise "liberties" which are not their to take. And while it should be common sense to lock up a network, many simply don't have that technical knowledge. You can certainly feel free to criticize them, if that makes you feel special. that again...nobody, has ever been acquitted of theft on the argument that "it wasn't locked up".

And nobody is stealing anything here. And nobody will be acquitted of stealing anything here. Because no theft charges will be brought against anyone in this case.

What is happening is that people are publicly broadcasting signals on public airwaves, in spaces that extend well beyond their property lines (also known as, "public spaces").

They can stop publicly broadcasting their signals on these public airwaves, in public spaces, at any time they wish. That is what they have liberty to do. They also have the liberty to encrypt those signals. They also have the liberty to stop publicly broadcasting the SSID of their WIFI, if they choose. Of course they would need to tick the appropriate check box on the settings menu of their WIFI router, but that is not what they want.

They want money for nothing, and have brought this frivolous lawsuit against google in their attempt at getting money for nothing.

When you check your WIFI settings (on your phone, or laptop, or tablet), you will be see a list of all the WIFI routers that are publicly broadcasting their SSIDs. What you are suggesting is that YOU could be sued for checking your WIFI settings on your devices, and jotting down the names of those WIFI routers that are publicly broadcasting their SSIDs

I understand the issues at play in this lawsuit, and agree that the lawsuit itself likely has no merit.

My issue is with the cavalier assertion that unless wifi is locked down, it belongs to the public. It doesn't. Yes, encrypting or otherwise protecting your wifi is the smart thing, just like locking your front door, your car door...whatever. But it's irresponsible to suggest that a person is responsible for their own loss if they fail to lock one of these things. Culpability lies with the person who took what was not theirs to take.

There was a recent article in a local paper here about a woman (a senior) on the hook for hundreds of dollars of data charges, as someone was stealing their wifi. Granted, she let it go longer than she should have, noticing charges on a bill that she didn't question. The issue was between her and her provider, and responsibility was not clear cut. What is clear cut, in my view, is that the person using her wifi was stealing, pure and simple. It matters not whether this woman had the foresight or capaibility of protecting her setup.

Perv metaphor...

You have 2 girls walking down the street together. One is wearing a t-shirt and some jeans, the other is wearing a string bikini. Some dude snaps a picture of them. Then Ms. StingBikini calls the cops because her privacy was violated since this perv took her picture.

Really? Seems to me if you are publicly displaying your half naked body, you shouldn't be upset when people record your half naked body.

Now if said perv actually walked up and copped a feel, there should be a problem.

This is the exact same thing. If you are not going to do anything at all from stopping people from accessing your wide-open network, don;t be upset if someone takes a pic. Now, if they start rummaging through your stuff, there is an issue.

And the argument that most people aren;t smart enough to put in a wifi password? bullshit. If you are smart enough to install a wifi router and get things to connect to it, you are smart enough to add a key to the network.

There are two people responsible here. First and foremost, the thieving b***ard stealing her wifi and leaving her on the hook. That said, each of us bears a responsibility to take reasonable precautions and protect ourselves and our property. True, it is wrong for someone to steal, and I'm not condoning that in the least, but if I lay a stack of $100 bills out on the sidewalk in front of my house, I really should be partly blaming myself when they go missing. It's like leaving your steak on the floor and expecting your dog not to eat it, because he "knows better".

That's a *very* different story that what Google is being sued for, here. Most smart phones that we're all walking around with are "scanning" for an open WiFi network all the time. That's all Google's Street View cars were doing: scanning for WiFi's, and recording their name and the signal strength at the point the scan was done. It's not like they were using people's unlocked WiFi to grab some extra YouTube bandwidth.

Nobody has ever been acquitted or excused due to ignorance, either. Learn to secure your property and network, friend.

It's not at all like someone coming into your house.

It's like you putting a big sign on the roof of your house, with big letters, that can be read from a distance well beyond the limits of your yard. And then suing somebody for reading your sign while driving down the street, and claiming that it is an invasion of your privacy.

Technically, if you leave your WiFi open, then *every* *single* smart phone that comes down your street is doing the same thing.

Sure you can. Its called PRIVATE PROPERTY. Just because I leave my door open doesn't give you the right to walk in uninvited. Do it at my house and you WILL get shot. Period.

If I leave my keys in the ignition and the car unlocked, it is still illegal for you to take it without my permission.

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Completely out of context, friend. There is nothing wrong, or worthy of mockery, with using a gun to defend your home (and family) from an intruder.

yeah, except google's cars were not on PRIVATE PROPERTY, they are on public roads, that people chose to fill with their WiFi.

now if you set all of your stuff out in the street, then you can't really get mad when your neighbors look through it...

if you want or expect privacy, then keep it private. the minute you make or allow something to be public, then that is what it is, PUBLIC!

Also, on a side note, thanks for making the rest of us 2nd amendment advocates look like asses. I don't care what state you live in, if a little kid walks in your front door holding a teddy bear because you left the door open and you gun them down, you will go to prison. Period.

a funny thing about open doors... is that it is usually regarded as a sign of invitation. why do you think they call it an "OPEN DOOR" policy?

Well said all around. I don't think most people realize where the line really lies between public and private
The scary thing is how many gun owners have loud attitudes like the previous poster's. It gives pause to folks like myself who normally don't give much of a damn on the issue. Can we just get rid of the nutcases on all sides?

Uh, for a 2nd Amendment advocate, you do look pretty foolish with your comment. It's pretty clear he was speaking of an uninvited intruder, not a child with a teddy bear. Don't be so obtuse. That sort of thinking makes the 2nd Amendment debate much more idiotic and rancorous than it ever should have been. We have a right to defend our homes against intruders, plain and simple. No reasonable standard of that suggest double tapping a child who is presenting no danger. Get real. She chose to star in a movie that would be viewed by (a certain demographic of) the public.

I must say I agree with the remainder of your comment, though. If you put something out in the public space, you really have no expectation of privacy at that point. It's like the student at Duke who chose to be a porn star, then got upset that another student recognized her and told other students about it.

"It's pretty clear he was speaking of an uninvited intruder"

somehow I'm the one here that's foolish here...

uninvited- I clearly made the point that having the door open alone can (and usually is) be considered a form of invitation...

intruder - most definitions of intrude have to do with thrusting or forcing, both of which have nothing to do with walking right through a door that is open...

as far as what was clearly said, he clearly said that he WILL shoot anybody that walks through his door that he purposely left open. PERIOD. to me that sounds like he is just going to shoot somebody that comes in no matter what, what it doesn't say is that he is only going to shoot somebody that is clearly a threat to him or his family.

of course we have the right to protect ourselves, if there is an intruder in my house, I will first identify the subject and assess that they are actually a threat before taking any actions. and it the situation can be ended with out taking a life, then you damn sure bet that's the route I'm gonna take.

my problem isn't with protection someones home, its the blanket statement that somebody is gonna shoot anyone just because they are uninvited. its statements like that that gets people that either don't like or don't understand firearms so fired up these days. every firearm owner should have the decency to think before they say something like that as to not give the anti-gun crowd anything else to cry about. so if feeling that way make me foolish, well then thank god that is also my right to do.

for the record
doors - shut
locks - locked
WiFi - encrypted/password protected
guns - loaded (well at least a couple of them...)

F*cking dbags like you with guns are incredible. You would likely miss and I would drag you into the street, let you get up to defend yourself like a real man, and proceed to kick your arse.

Otherwise I agree you point. BTW I have a permit to carry concealed. With great power comes great responsibiliy, and trigger happy folks like you seem to be don't deserve that power. You will lose it eventually.

He doesn't sound trigger happy. He sounds like someone who will defend his home from unwanted intrusion by strangers. The castle doctrine still stands in most states, even ones that aren't 2nd Amendment friendly. Obviously he isn't speaking of a person who poses no danger, but there is an assumption when an someone comes in uninvited that you should be at the very least wary. This obviously doesn't mean gun down anyone, including children and butterflies, that wander in your front door when you leave it open.

the problem is that you say "obviously" but its not obvious what somebody means when they say something, what is obvious is the actual words that they say. and yes, it should be common sense, but way to often common sense is not all that common anymore...

I could say that leaving a door open is obviously a welcoming gesture. but that also falls more under common sense.

the bottom line here is that IF you leave your door open all the time, A: you shouldn't be surprised if sooner or later somebody peeks in and B: there are plenty of good reasons to shoot somebody, if you choose to shoot somebody, make sure that your reason is good.

Very true, but you're still a fool if you think you have no responsibility, to yourself and your family, to take common sense measures to defend against those who would walk into your house or steal your car.

Seems simple if your wifi is secured why worry about Google street view bothering your wifi
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I don't see a problem with Google using wifi routers to aid their efforts, but I am concerned that the Supreme Court might honor Google's request to dismiss the case. Hopefully the Supreme Court will not bend to Google. I don't want a precedent set here that allows big corporations to call off the dogs anytime there is a lawsuit brought against them. Class action lawsuits are one of few ways that every day citizens can fight these big companies. If we take that away, then the big companies become even more of a problem.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against with big corporations, I just want to make sure they aren't given the power to influence the highest court in the land.

So wait.....people leave their network open, and they don't complain when random people connect to it all the time, but when Google does it watch out for the shit storm??? SMH

Some people have idiot installers that don't set a wifi password and they don't know how to do it themselves. Sometimes people don't even realize their network is open.

With great power comes great responsibility...

While ignorance can be bliss, it is no excuse. If your gonna use something, you probably should know how it works. (for your own protection)

And some people have idiot IT people at work too, but they know enough to make sure their email is password protected, right? This is no excuse. That's like saying "I didn't know I had to check to make sure my brakes worked after I left the mechanic...I didn't do the work"