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Connecticut probing Google on Wi-Fi data gathering

June 7, 2010 | 12:31 pm

Connecticut's top prosecutor is the latest to ask Google Inc. to provide detailed records on any information it may have collected from unsecured wireless networks in his state while taking photographs for its Street View feature.

Streetview Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal sent a letter May 27 to the Internet giant demanding detailed records on what information was captured by the roving camera-equipped vehicles that take photos for the mapping service and how that information was used. Blumenthal held a press conference this Monday.

"Drive-by data sweeps of unsecured Wi-Fi networks here would be deeply disturbing, a potentially impermissible, pernicious invasion of privacy," Blumenthal said in a statement.

Google, which revealed the data collection last month, said it was inadvertent.

"We're continuing to work with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns," a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

Missouri’s top prosecutor sent a similar letter to Google on Friday. Other attorneys general are considering similar actions.

Australia has launched an investigation into whether Google broke any privacy laws in that country.

What -- if any -- repercussions these probes could have on Google and its image remains unclear.

"When the AGs look at an issue, they're looking for two things: to influence behavior and to collect money," crisis communications expert Eric Dezenhall said. 

Connecticut's Blumenthal, a Democrat, is running for the Senate seat of the retiring Sen. Christopher Dodd.

This is not Blumenthal's first high-profile high-tech battle. Years ago, he was involved in taking on Microsoft Corp. in an antitrust probe and Oracle Corp. in its hostile takeover of PeopleSoft.

-- Jessica Guynn

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