Without beating this story to death, I'll round up the current status: The story so far: Google sniffed open Wi-Fi networks while taking pictures for Street View, and, it says inadvertently, collected dribs and drabs of regular packets from these open networks, too.
In Hamburg, Germany, the city's data protection head (cool that the city has such an office) says Google won't turn over the data it collected for examination; Google says it's still figuring out whether under German law turning off this data to the Hamburg chief would be itself another violation of privacy.
In the same New York Times article, it's noted that Hong Kong's privacy commissioner might impose sanctions after Google ignored his request to look at data.
The Times says that Google has destroyed data collected in Denmark, Ireland, and Austria after being requested to so by those nations' regulators; eight other countries have asked for the data to be kept. Google said elsewhere that it had turned the data over to a third party for safekeeping.
Lawsuits continue to mount, too. I wrote a few days ago about a Northwest US effort to get a class-action suit going, and why I thought the suit was technical nonsense, and unlikely to pass muster on those grounds (who knows about legal). (An Oregon judge just ordered Google to hand over related data within 10 days.)
Now, Galaxy Internet Services, a veteran wireless network provider in New England, has sued in that state, trying to get class-action status. There's also a California suit underway.
I give none of this much chance of success. Regulators and privacy commissioners may impose token penalties. What if the penalties are $50m worldwide? A pittance for Google, and happily paid to resolve it. (It's more likely to be $100,000s total.)
This will raise more awareness about the dangers of open networks that are unintentionally open, and more people will enable encryption.
Google's greatest penalty will be more restrictions on its actions in all realms, however, which could extract a greater price than any fines or lawsuits.