On May 28, 2010, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC; Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, PLLC; and Consumer Watchdog filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of plaintiffs Patrick Keyes, Deepa Isac, and Edward Fenn, and a nationwide class of similarly situated persons, regarding Google's intentional interception of electronic communications sent over their open, non-secured wireless internet connections.
Since at least May 2007, Google has used vehicles sent to capture images for its "Street View" technology to also access open wireless internet networks located in the United States and more than thirty countries around the world. Google designed its Street View vehicles so that as they traveled through cities and towns they not only gathered images, but also collected data sent and received over the wireless networks they encountered, including all or part of e-mails, passwords, videos, audio files, and documents, as well as network names and router information. This data was captured and stored without the knowledge or authorization of class members, and the data was not reasonably accessible to the general public. Plaintiffs allege that Google's conduct violated Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, as amended by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, 18 U.S.C. § 2511, et seq., also known as the Wiretap Act.
The complaint follows an announcement that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating Google's conduct and has instructed the company not to destroy any documents relating to the data collection. Officials in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and the Czech Republic, among other nations, are also investigating the matter.