More Online Trouble for Service Providers?

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Google is facing increased scrutiny of its data collection and use practices, which may be a warning to all Internet and online service providers. Last week, Judge Koh in San Jose held Google accountable for an alleged violation of the wiretap laws for Google’s “undisclosed” review of subscribers’ emails and other data to deliver targeted ads and create user profiles. Among other things, the fact that Google warned its Gmail users that it “may” review their emails was apparently not the same as saying it “will” review them.

In the Street View case I blogged on the week before, the Ninth Circuit found that Google violated the same wiretap laws when, as part of compiling Street View data, it accessed unencrypted Wi-Fi transmissions, despite exceptions in the wiretap laws permitting access to unencrypted radio signals. Google filed for panel and en banc rehearing.