Google apologizes for WiFi data collection

Keith Loria Jun. 9, 2010, 2:01pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Just a day after Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Google expressing his concerns that the Internet company had collected data from homes illegally, he received a response.

Google has acknowledged to Blumenthal's office that its "Street View" cars in Connecticut had collected data from unsecured WiFi networks, potentially including e-mails, passwords and other secure information from unsecured home and business wireless computer networks.

"Google's acknowledgment that it vacuumed up data from unencrypted wireless computer networks in Connecticut is disturbing and demands additional inquiry," Blumenthal said.

"Google grabbed information - which could include emails, passwords and web-browsing - that consumers rightly expect to be private. Google needs to better explain how this practice happened, exactly when, where and why."

Google apologized for the mistake and revealed that it has ended its entire Street View fleet and, to address concerns about the practice, has stopped all WiFi data collection.

"My office is carefully considering Google's answers and will seek additional information. Key questions include how Google learned that its software was gathering unencrypted data and why the company kept the information," Blumenthal said.

"We will consider the legality of Google's WiFi collection practices. Google's actions raise troubling and profound questions about privacy and whether laws need to be clarified or changed."

Google told Blumenthal's office it "believes" it started collecting WiFi data in Connecticut in 2008, but assured the AG that the data collected was secured and not used in any Google products or services.

Google said that it will provide additional information in the next week that will reveal what towns and cities it collected WiFi data from and the number of networks from which it gathered information.

Blumenthal is running for U.S. Senate.

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