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Google asks Supreme Court to weigh in on legality of data collecting program

google street car.jpg

A Google Street View car is driven in Sundsvall, northern Sweden September 13, 2011. (Reuters)

Google is asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the legality of the company’s past collection of unencrypted Wi-Fi data from routers across America.

As part of Google’s Street View program, the tech giant sent a fleet of photo-snapping cars around the country to capture the names and MAC addresses of routers to improve its geolocation services from 2008 to 2010, according to Wired. But the vehicles also collected snippets of Internet traffic from unencrypted routers, which the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said last September may be a violation of the Wiretap Act.

The Wiretap Act forbids the interception of electronic communications, but states that it is acceptable to record “electronic communication [that] is readily accessible to the general public.”

Google has long-defended the legality of its data-collecting and asked the Supreme Court on Monday to overrule the appeals court decision and end a series class action lawsuits, Wired reports.

The FCC and the Justice Department have cleared Google of any violations of the law. Google is arguing that the appeals court’s ruling could block security scanning and said it never used the data that it collected.

“IT professionals routinely use the same kind of technology as Google’s Street View cars did to collect packet data in order to secure company networks,” the company said in a court filing.