Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, EPIC has obtained the closing letter from the Department of Justice to Google attorneys in the Street View matter. The letter briefly mentions Google's interception and collection of private Wi-Fi communications across the United States over several years. The disclosure of the activity occurred after a European data protection authority discovered that Google's "Street View" vehicles also captured private Wi-Fi data. More than 12 countries subsequently investigated Google's programs, and at least 9 countries found Google guilty of violating their laws. The letter from the DOJ states that US officials were aware that Google's "equipment collected 'payload' data, including contents of e-mail and Internet addresses typed by users," but the Department "decided not to seek charges" against Google for violating the Wiretap Act. The Ninth Circuit recently affirmed a federal court's decision to allow a class action lawsuit against Google to move forward for wiretap violations stemming from the Street View program. For more information, see EPIC: Investigations of Google Street View and EPIC: Joffe v. Google.
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Communications Law and Policy
Jerry Kang and Alan Butler