Connecticut AG Demands Google Street View WiFi Data

Connecticut state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Dec. 10 compelled Google to turn over data collected from Connecticut citizens via insecure WiFi networks with Street View.

Connecticut state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Dec. 10 ratcheted up his July request for data Google collected from Connecticut citizens via insecure wireless networks by demanding the search engine to cough it up.

Blumenthal's office issued a civil investigative demand, or the equivalent of a subpoena, to make Google turn over the data its Street View cars inadvertently grabbed from personal and business WiFi networks across the state.

Google admitted in May its Street View cars, which rove streets all over the world to grab imagery for Google Maps, had grabbed 600GB of WiFi network data from more than 30 countries around the world since 2007.

While Google initially thought this data was just fragments, 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 a statement.

This is important, he argued, because Google was inconsistent about whether data was fragmentary or whole.

"Verifying Google's data snare is crucial to assessing a penalty and assuring no repeat. Consumers and businesses expect and deserve a full explanation, as well as measures shielding them from future spying. We will scrupulously safeguard the confidentiality of information we review."

Blumenthal, whose action is supported by the Department of Consumer Protection, gave Google until Dec. 17 to turn over the data.

Google, which denied using any of the data it collected, waxed contrite in a statement.

"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."

The AG's latest complaint comes six weeks after the Federal Trade Commission laid to rest its investigation into the so-called WiSpy incident.

However, the Federal Communications Commission said Nov. 10 it was probing whether Google broke the law in the incident.