Google Dec. 17 declined to give e-mail, password and Web browser information its Street View cars accidentally collected to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
Google Dec. 17 refused to give personal data accidentally
collected from Connecticut citizens to the state attorney general, a move that
could precipitate legal action.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Dec. 10 issued
the search engine a civil investigative demand to retrieve data Google's
Street View cars accidentally collected over unsecured WiFi networks.
Blumenthal's demand, for which he applied a Friday
deadline, was tantamount to a subpoena. In a new statement, he threatened Google
with legal action for failing to comply.
"I am disappointed by Google's failure to comply
with my information demands," Blumenthal said. "We will review any
information we receive and consider whether additional enforcement steps --
including possible legal action -- are warranted."
in May its Street View cars, which rove streets all over the world to
grab imagery for Google Maps, had grabbed 600GB of WiFi data from more than 30
countries around the world since 2007.
While Google initially thought this data was simply
fragments of content, it later learned it included private citizens' whole
e-mails, passwords and Web browsing information.
Google has turned over this data in Germany, France,
Spain and Canada, and destroyed it in Ireland. But it has not done either in
Connecticut, according to Blumenthal.
"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," Blumenthal said in his
statement Dec. 10.
Google declined to tell eWEEK why it refused Blumenthal's
request for the information. A Google spokesperson stuck to the company refrain
in this matter.
"As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for
having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted networks. As soon as
we realized what had happened, we stopped collecting all WiFi data from our
Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities.
"We did not want and have never used the payload
data in any of our products and services. We want to delete the data as soon as
possible and will continue to work with the authorities to determine the best
way forward, as well as to answer their further questions and concerns."
That answer isn't satisfactory for privacy pundits such
as Consumer Watchdog's John M. Simpson.
"Google's refusal to give data gathered by its
Street View cars from private WiFi networks to Connecticut Attorney General
Richard Blumenthal underscores the need for a Congressional hearing,"
Simpson said. "What is Google hiding?
Blumenthal, who was elected to the Senate and begins his
duties there next month, targeted Google six weeks after the Federal Trade
its investigation into the so-called WiSpy incident.
However, the Federal Communications Commission
Nov. 10 it was probing whether Google broke the law in the incident.