Blumenthal demands info from Google

Keith Loria Dec. 10, 2010, 9:50am


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is demanding access to data collected in the state illegally by an Internet giant.

Google collected the data in 2008 through its Street View service, when the Street View cars allegedly improperly collected data from unsecured Connecticut personal and business wireless computer networks.

In cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection, Blumenthal issued the demand Friday to Google in the form of a civil investigative demand, which is the equivalent of a subpoena.

"We need to verify what confidential information the company surreptitiously and wrongfully collected and stored," Blumenthal said. "We are compelling the company to grant my office access to data to determine whether e-mails, passwords, web-browsing and other information was improperly intercepted, for the same reasons that other law enforcement agencies abroad have done so."

Google originally claimed that the data was fragmented, but since has acknowledged that entire e-mails and other information may have been improperly captured.

"Reviewing this information is vital because Google's story changed, first claiming only fragments were collected, then acknowledging entire e-mails," Blumenthal said. "Verifying Google's data snare is crucial to assessing a penalty and assuring no repeat. Consumers and businesses expect and deserve a full explanation, as well as measures shielding them from future spying. We will scrupulously safeguard the confidentiality of information we review."

Although Google has allowed Canadian and other regulatory authorities to review similar data, it has so far refused to allow Blumenthal's office the same access.

"We will fight to compel Google to come clean-granting my office access to improperly collected materials and protecting confidentiality, as the company has done in Canada and elsewhere," Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal has given Google until Dec. 17 to provide access to the information.

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