Google sued over snaffled Street View data

Google has received a writ from Vicki Van Valin and Neil Mertz as part of a class action that their privacy was violated by Street View vehicles picking up data from open wireless internet connections used at home. They also want a court to prevent Google from destroying the data that’s been collected.

The case launched in an Oregon district court.

The plaintiffs allege Google using its fleet of specially adapted vehicles captured data using 3G/GSM/wi-fi antennas and captured their data using a packet sniffer.

Google, it’s alleged, included wireless packet sniffers in the vehicles that captured the MAC address, and data consisting of all or part of any documents, emails, video, audio and VoIP info over the network.

After Google collected and decoded Ms Van Valin’s and Mr Mertz data it stored the information on its servers. “On information and belief, hundreds if not thousands of Google employees throughout the United States and the world have access to data maintained on Google’s servers,” the writ alleges.

The class action affects both Oregon and Washington states, said the filing. Both plaintiffs’ privacy has been breached, and it’s alleged Google’s conduct breaches 18 USC §2511.

Under 18 USC §2520, the plaintiffs and class members are entitled to $100 a day for each day their data was breached, or $10,000 per violation per plaintiff.

The filing also asks for punitive damages.

The plaintiffs have also asked the court to immediately prevent Google from destroying the payload data it has collected because that would spoil critical evidence. So they want a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent Google doing this.