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Google Drive-by Scoops Personal Info

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Portland, ORIn the course of creating its super photo map of the world, Google admits that it may have inadvertently grabbed your wi-fi signals when its truck passed by your house. Exactly what information was vacuumed up is not likely to become clear until attorney Brooks Cooper meets with Google in an examination for discovery process in a potential class action suit against Google for alleged invasion of privacy and theft of data.

"We would like to see the data itself. We want to know if any Washingtonians' or Oregonians' private information was taken," says Cooper, one of three lawyers representing the putative class. "We need to know what kind of data was taken, why Google took it and how what they are doing with this data.

"If no data was taken then there is no lawsuit. However, that seems doubtful."

Class representatives Vicki Van Valin and Neil Mertz were both using non-password protected wireless networks from their homes at the time Google was believed to have scanned their neighborhoods for information. Van Valin, who works from home in the technology industry, says the Street View vehicles cruised by her residence at least once.

"Van Valin works in a high technology field, and works from her home over her Internet-connected computer a substantial amount of time," the complaint reads. "In connection with her work and home life, Van Valin transmits and receives a substantial amount of data from and to her computer over her wireless network. A significant amount of the wireless data is also subject to her employer's non-disclosure and security regulations."

"She could have had VOIP telephone calls where she was discussing sensitive issues, there could have been emails intercepted," says Cooper. "There is variety of data that passes back forth between her and her employer that she does regularly from her home, and if Google passed by when she was online, Google might very well be in possession of that data today. We don't know."

Cooper says he has been contacted by other potential class members concerned that their data may have been compromised by the Google neighborhood sweeps.

The law provides for both statutory and monetary damages for invasion of privacy and unauthorized data collection. The suit has been filed in Washington and Oregon states. Cooper believes other complaints may come forward from other parts of the country in due time.

Google has yet to respond to the complaint.

Brooks Cooper is Brooks Cooper Attorney received his JD from Lewis and Clark College's Northwestern School of Law in 1993. He is a member of both the Oregon State Bar and the Washington State Bar. Cooper has a wide variety of legal experience, including litigation of estate, fiduciary duty, trust, real property, motor vehicle negligence, medical negligence, criminal, and class action matters.

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Reader Comments

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Last week I stopped at a well known Gas staion, I was buying ciggeretts for my brother. I know you must be over 18 ( i'm 52) I did'nt mind having to show my drivers license, BUT I WAS THEN INFORMED IT MUST BE SCANNED!!) I asked why! I was told this is the NEW POLICES. This is no longer being used to verify your age!! This info is being STOLEN! KEPT! AND WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE PLANNING TO DO WITH IT! I paid in cash and see NO REASON!

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