A multistate investigation is raising more questions about how Google Inc. gathered people's private information through their unsecured wireless networks while collecting data for its popular Street View feature.
Connecticut Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal, who has been leading the monthlong investigation, sent a third set of questions to Google on Wednesday asking whether it had tested the feature's software before putting it to use. Doing so, he said, should have uncovered any glitches responsible for the unwarranted collection of e-mails, passwords and other personal data of those who failed to protect their networks with passwords.
"Google's responses continue to generate more questions than they answer," Blumenthal said in a statement. "Now the question is how it may have used — and secured — all this private information."
Blumenthal, who is running for Sen. Christopher J. Dodd's seat, also said attorneys general from 37 states and the District of Columbia have officially joined the probe, including those from Texas, Florida and Massachusetts. Eight states would not be identified because their laws bar them from disclosing investigations, he said.
A spokeswoman for California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said that although the attorney general's office has been talking directly with Google over the issue, it has have not joined the multistate probe.
"As we've said before, it was a mistake for us to include code in our software that collected payload data, but we believe we did nothing illegal," Google of Mountain View, Calif., said in a statement. "We're continuing to work with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns."
The investigation, which follows similar probes in Germany and Australia, is also considering whether federal and state laws need to be changed or updated as a preventative measure.
The Street View function, which launched in 2007 and expanded to most major cities in the U.S, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, uses vehicles to photograph street layouts to give Web users a 360-degree view of streets and roadways.
But the vehicles were also equipped to detect Wi-Fi access points, which Google hadn't disclosed until recently. Although the purpose of using the access points was to help computers figure out where they are without having to use a GPS system, Google said it also mistakenly picked up 600 gigabytes of data from unsecured networks over the last three years.