Google's collection of passwords, email and other data by its Street View efforts violated federal wiretap laws, a federal appeals court affirmed on Tuesday.
Google can now be sued for privacy violations, according to the San Jose Mercury News, following the ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Mountain View Web giant is guilty of an "intrusive and unwarranted invasion of privacy."
Google says that it mistakenly and unknowingly collected data from unsecured WiFi networks while mapping streets. The company has apologized, and agreed to pay a $7 million fine spread among 38 states that had brought action against it.
Private lawsuits from citizens whose data ended up in Google's hands, however, may continue.
Google did not comment on the setback. The company may appeal to the Supreme Court.