Google, Wi-Fi Snooping, and the Ever-Shifting 'Creepy' Line

Photograph by Mike Groll/AP Photo

Google’s snooping into wireless network data via its Street View cars—behavior that triggered a Federal Communications Commission investigation, as well as multiple lawsuits—is back in the news via a report on Tuesday from the New York Times that identifies the engineer behind the project. But while there has been much public outrage about what Google did, it’s interesting to note that even the FCC said the company’s data capturing wasn’t illegal because the networks in question were effectively public. (The Federal Trade Commission also dropped a similar case.) Is this a sign of how broken the laws around privacy are, or is the Street View furor an overreaction?

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