US states probe Google’s Street View
States in the US led by Connecticut have launched an investigation into Google’s collection of Wi-Fi data, as global probes into Google Street View continue.
Google admits its Street View cars ‘accidentally’ gathered data from individuals’ and businesses’ unsecured Wi-Fi networks in 30 countries. It blames a rogue code in the software for the error.
The search giant collected the data as it logged Wi-Fi hotspots, which it says was designed to improve location-based services. Google has since ceased to collect the information but never justified how the software came to be included in the Street View system, blaming a ‘single engineer’.
Getting to the bottom
The US investigation seeks to get to the bottom of Google’s working practices including finding out why the operation took place, who inserted the code and why such private information was stored.
The state of Connecticut is leading the investigation, headed up by its attorney general Richard Blumenthal.
Blumenthal has demanded copies of the company’s internal procedures relating to Street View as well as details of how and when Google realised its cars had captured sensitive and private data. He is also keen to find out why the firm was recording the quality and signal strength of personal and business wireless networks in the first place.
So far thirty states have signed up to the investigation and Blumenthal expects more to join. He has branded the accidental collection of data as a "deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy."
Blumenthal champions the consumers’ right to know why their personal information, possibly including emails and passwords, was collected by the search giant and why.
French data protection agency CNIL is the latest to insist on seeing details of the data collected, with similar investigations under way in Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Spain.Google’s offered to delete the sensitive data.