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Connecticut demands details of Google Wi-Fi data collection

Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal wants to know what information was captured by the vehicles that take photos for Google's Street View service and how that information was used.

June 08, 2010|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Francisco —

Connecticut's top prosecutor has asked Google Inc. to provide detailed records on any information it may have collected from unsecured wireless networks in his state while taking photographs for its Street View feature.

Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal announced Monday that he'd sent a letter to the Internet giant demanding detailed records on what information was captured by the roving vehicles that take photos for the mapping service and how that information was used.

"Drive-by data sweeps of unsecured Wi-Fi networks here would be deeply disturbing, a potentially impermissible, pernicious invasion of privacy," Blumenthal said in a statement.

Google, which revealed the data collection last month, said capturing the information was inadvertent.

"We're continuing to work with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns," a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

Missouri's top prosecutor sent a similar letter to Google on Friday. Other states' attorneys general are considering similar actions.

Australia has launched an investigation into whether Google broke any privacy laws in that country.

It remains unclear what — if any — repercussions these probes could have on Google and its image.

"When the AGs look at an issue, they're looking for two things: to influence behavior and to collect money," crisis communications expert Eric Dezenhall said.

Connecticut's Blumenthal, a Democrat, is running for the Senate seat of Christopher J. Dodd, who is retiring.

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

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