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12/10/2010
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Connecticut AG Demands Google Street View Data

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has given Google until Dec. 17 to turn over the data that was wrongfully collected from personal and business Wi-Fi networks.

The Connecticut attorney general is demanding that Google turn over the data its street-mapping vehicles collected from personal and business wireless networks throughout the state.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Friday that he had issued the order in the form of a civil investigative demand, the equivalent of a subpoena, after Google refused to turn over the data to the prosecutor's office. The state Department of Consumer Protection has joined Blumenthal in seeking the data.

Google acknowledged in May that its Street View cars had mistakenly harvested data traveling over unprotected Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries. The disclosure prompted multiple lawsuits, Congressional scrutiny in the U.S. and multiple investigations in Europe. Some countries have asked Google to delete the data, while others have asked the company to retain it to facilitate investigations.

Google has apologized for the snafu. The company did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Blumenthal claimed Google initially said the data gathered in 2008 was fragmented, and has since changed its story, acknowledging that entire emails and other information may have been captured. In light of the disclosure, the attorney general's office wants to verify for itself the kind of data gathered, saying that it could include emails, passwords, Web-browsing, and other private information.

"Verifying Google's data snare is critical to assessing a penalty and assuring no repeat," Blumenthal says in a statement. "Consumers and businesses expect and deserve a full explanation, as well as measures shielding them from future spying."

The attorney general has given Google until Dec. 17 to meet the demand. Blumenthal did not say what the consequences would be, if the data is not turned over.

Blumenthal announced in June that his office would lead a multi-state investigation into Google's data-collection activities, which he called a "deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy." Other states have yet to announce their participation in the investigation.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission in October closed its inquiry, saying its was satisfied with changes it had made to prevent future data collection and with the company's promise to delete improperly gathered information as soon as possible.

In Europe, the reaction has been more severe. In Spain, government regulators have embarked on disciplinary proceedings that could lead to fines of several hundred thousand dollars for each infraction. In Germany, Several hundred thousand Germans have asked Google to remove their properties from Street View, an option offered to them as part of the deal Google signed with authorities. And Italian authorities have ordered Google to make sure its Street View cars -- recognizable by their roof-mounted periscope cameras -- are clearly marked and to provide advance notification of the routes the cars will travel.

SEE ALSO:

Connecticut AG Investigating Google Wi-Fi Incident

FTC Ends Google Street View Investigation

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