Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Asks Google If It Collected Wireless Network Data Without Permission In CT

June 7, 2010

            Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is asking Google whether its “street view” cars collected personal information transmitted over wireless networks without permission while photographing Connecticut streets and homes.

            Google has acknowledged that “street view” cars in some locations have intercepted information from unsecured personal WIFI networks.

In Europe, notably Ireland, Google admitted intercepting packets of data from unsecured WIFI networks. Private litigation alleges that Google also did so in the United States. Published reports say the captured, private online information may include general web browsing, passwords, personal emails and other data.

Blumenthal wrote Google asking the company whether it gathered such data in Connecticut. If it did, the attorney general is demanding that the company tell his office how much and what kind of information it collected, when and where it did so, why, where the data is stored and other information.

            “Driveby data sweeps of unsecured WIFI networks here would be deeply disturbing, a potentially impermissible, pernicious invasion of privacy,” Blumenthal said. “Consumers and businesses rightly expect Google to respect their privacy, not invade it by vacuuming up confidential data.

            “I am demanding Google reveal any WIFI data collection in Connecticut. If it occurred, the company should provide my office a full explanation, including what it gathered, when, where and why. My office can evaluate whether laws were broken. Concealed Internet capture by Google’s high tech cars may violate valid expectations of privacy -- making it possibly illegal. If personal data was collected, Google must disclose how widely it was captured, how it was stored, who had access to it and the purpose.

“Unauthorized surveillance of wireless network data is the dark side of the new Internet era -- and I will fight it.”