Google "Street View" case may be headed for SCOTUS Review


Google held true to its promise to seek SCOTUS review of the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation of the term “radio communications” in the Wiretap Act when it filed its Petition for Certiorari last week. Google had argued in the Ninth Circuit that intercepting unencrypted Wi-Fi transmissions is within a specific exemption, but the Ninth Circuit (initially and on rehearing) held instead that unencrypted Wi-Fi is protected from interception by the Wiretap Act. Absent an extension, oppositions are due April 30, 2014.
In its petition to the Supreme Court, Google argues that the Ninth Circuit got it wrong when it held that the express exemption in the Wiretap Act allowing for interception of “unencrypted radio communications” applies only to “predominantly auditory broadcasts.” And Wi-Fi, as we all know, is everything – data, video, and audio, with some narrowcast while others are broadcast.  While legislative history and interpretations can be used to support either argument, the Ninth Circuit reached its result by distinguishing between the terms “radio communications” and “communications by radio,” holding that the latter was expansive and the former restrictive.
The case is important for not only the potential massive liability of Google, but also to ongoing efforts to interpret and possibly amend the Wiretap Act and other provisions included in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Davis Wright Tremaine LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Davis Wright Tremaine LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.