38 states grill Google on three-year Wi-Fi slurp
More questions than answers, official says
A coalition of 38 US states has called on Google to explain in detail how Wi-Fi-sniffing software that surreptitiously collected data over wireless networks was included in its fleet of Street View cars.
“We are asking Google to identify specific individuals responsible for the snooping code and how Google was unaware that this code allowed the Street View cars to collect data broadcast over WiFI networks,” Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of Connecticut, said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Information we are awaiting includes how the spy software was included in Google's Street View network and specific locations where unauthorized data collection occurred.”
Blumenthal said 38 states and the District of Columbia have formally joined the probe into the Street View sniffing debacle, which collected snippets of traffic traveling over open Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries over a three-year period. In addition to Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Texas are on the coalition's executive committee. The investigation aims to determine whether any laws were broken and whether legislation is needed to prevent similar episodes in the future.
For years, Google said network SSIDs and device MAC addresses were the only Wi-Fi data recorded under its Street View program. Then, in mid May, Google disclosed the Google disclosed that cars collected payloads from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks that were within range of its Street View cars and said the software that was responsible was included by accident. The company reiterated those claims on Wednesday.
“As we’ve said before, it was a mistake for us to include code in our software that collected payload data, but we believe we did nothing illegal,” a Google spokeswoman wrote in an email. “We’re continuing to work with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns.”
In his statement, Blumenthal added: “Google's responses continue to generate more questions than they answer.”
At least seven civil lawsuits have been filed against Google over the Street View snooping, and agencies in Canada, Australia and throughout Europe have opened investigations. US lawmakers have called on the Federal Trade Commission to conduct its own inquiry. Blumenthal said he is actively recruiting additional states to join the coalition. ®
There are two issues here, which some people seem to be missing....
1: Collection of SSID/MAC addresses for use in Wi-Fi location-based services.
2: "Accidental" recording of user data sent un-encrypted .
I don't think anyone can have a real issue with 1, but the debate in about number 2. It is wrong to steal poeples data - this could well include usernames and passwords!
Although personally I think that browsing the intertubes via un-encrypted wireless is pretty much the same as shouting down the street - anyone within range can hear you, so you probably shouldn't tell them something you don't want them to hear!
so I can't video-tape / photograph police officers conducting an arrest (they are only people and can make mistakes) but google can have it's vehicles bully their way around the world and spy on everyone?
Someone needs to tell me how taking a picture of a cop doing an arrest is wiretapping, where exactly are the wires being tapped. If the cop recognizes he's being recorded that should be enough.
I've seen the tv shows where the cops yell turn that camera off. Who are they to be giving orders to people abiding by the law. If they can't yell show me your papers then that's about enough of the yelling.
Nothing will happen to google, you all know this. They could drive around shooting people and claim "we shouldn't of done that". and get off.
Not a mistake.
This did not happen by mistake.
Code to perform technical operations like this isn't written, integrated, compiled, tested and embedded by "accident".
These guys need throwing to the Wolves.