38 states press Google on personal data

By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A coalition of 38 states is pressing Google to answer for its unintentional collection of personal data through unsecured private wi-fi networks from its Street View cars.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is leading the multistate investigation, asked the Internet giant whether it had tested its Street View software before use.

That check "should have revealed that the program collected data transmitted over wireless computer network," Blumenthal said in a letter to the company Wednesday.

Blumenthal also asked what Google has done with the data, particularly if it has sold or used the information. He also requested that Google identify the individuals responsible for including the snooping code into the Street View software and the specific locations where the unauthorized data was collected.

"We will take all appropriate steps - including potential legal action if warranted - to obtain complete, comprehensive answers," Blumenthal said. "Our multistate investigation will determine whether laws were broken and whether legislation is necessary to prevent future privacy breaches."

Google first disclosed that it had mistakenly collected "payload data," which includes what websites people are visiting, from wi-fi networks that were not password-protected in May.

The information was gathered and stored while Google's Street View cars drove around the world collecting images for the company's mapping service using local wi-fi hotspots.

Blumenthal launched the investigation last month. Backing the probe are a growing number of states - including Texas, Florida and New York - as well as Washington, D.C.  To top of page

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