A US federal judge has ordered Google to hand over copies of the data the company captured from private wireless networks using its Street View vehicles.
The development comes as the search giant drags it feet before complying with a similar order issued by German authorities in Hamburg.
The judge made the demand in relation to a class action suit filed against Google in the state of Oregon. The case is one of several filed against the snooping Internet giant across the United States.
Google is accused of violating local and federal privacy laws by collecting data from unsecured wireless networks while out talking photos for its Street View service. This tags pictures to locations on Google's mapping services.
Litigants are demanding millions of dollars in damages from Google or invading their privacy.
District Court Judge Michael Mosman said the encrypted data willbe kept in a courthouse safe and only produced if deemd pertinent to the upcoming legal wrangling. "Google will retain the source hard drive and the encryption key," he said. "Access to the data on the source hard drive retained by Google will be determined in the normal course of discovery.
Google said it collected the data by accident, and apologised after getting rumbled by German authorities.