States, Feds Probe Google’s Unauthorized Wi-Fi Tracking

HARTFORD–Thirty state attorneys general have launched an investigation into Google’s practices of gathering Wi-Fi “payload” data. “My office will lead a multistate investigation — expected to involve a significant number of states — into Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

In May Google started getting sued around the country over its practice of collecting Wi-Fi data from potentially millions of people as the company photographed streets for Google maps.  In May, the House Energy Committee launched an inquiry into Google’s practice of gathering Wi-Fi data. The Electronic Privacy Foundation also wrote a letter to the FCC calling for a full investigation of the matter.

In June, the FCC said Google had clearly infringed on consumer privacy: “Whether intentional or not, collecting information sent over WiFi networks clearly infringes on consumer privacy.” On June 9 Google responded to the Congressional probe by stating that “being lawful and doing the right thing are two separate things.”

Blumenthal’s inquiry seeks records from Google including:

  • Copies of the company’s internal procedures and protocols for Street View cars and data collected by them;
  • What steps Google has taken to keep unauthorized code out of its products in the future;
  • Whether Google conducted internal or external audits, analysis or performance reviews of its Street View program and data collected;
  • How and when Google learned that its Street View cars were capturing data sent over unencrypted networks;
  • Why Google Street View cars recorded the signal strength and quality of personal and business wireless networks.

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