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The Supreme Court declined Google’s invitation to review a lower court’s conclusion that the media giant could be held liable for hijacking data on unencrypted Wi-Fi routers via its Street View cars.
The legal flap the justices refused (PDF) to weigh into Monday should concern anybody who uses open Wi-Fi connections in public places like coffee houses and restaurants. That’s because Google claims (PDF) it is legal to intercept data from Wi-Fi signals that are not password protected.
Google’s Street View vehicles, which are mapping the globe, were housing Wi-Fi sniffing hardware that was gathering data on the MAC addresses of routers in neighborhoods to better Google’s location services. But Google was also pulling snippets of data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks, and it claimed it did not know it was sniffing packets.
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