The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal by Google over whether it violated federal wiretapping law when its Street View mapping cars collected consumers' personal data.
That leaves intact a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Wiretap Act protects the privacy of information on unencrypted in-home Wi-Fi networks and means Google can face lawsuits over the matter, according to a Bloomberg report.
The issue stems from Google's Street View, a comprehensive mapping program that provides images of areas around the world. Google has admitted that its camera-equipped Street View cars inadvertently captured emails, passwords and other data from unprotected wireless networks as they drove by.
In a statement, a Google spokesman said the Mountain View, Calif., company was disappointed that the Supreme Court had declined to hear the case.
In March 2013, Google agreed to pay a $7-million fine for collecting personal data from millions of unsecured wireless networks while operating its Street View fleet. The fine settled an investigation of the data collection by 38 states and the District of Columbia.
As part of that agreement, Google promised to educate employees about the privacy of consumer data and sponsor a public service campaign to teach people how to secure their wireless networks. Google also agreed to destroy the data it collected.
Google said its executives were not aware the Street View vehicles were collecting other data, Connecticut Atty. Gen. George Jepsen said in a statement at the time.
The information included emails, passwords, Web history, text messages and other confidential details. Google disabled or removed the equipment and software used to collect the data, Jepsen said.
Google's shares were little changed at noon PDT.