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Google Street View vehicles’ data collection gets scrutiny from Michigan

June 17, 2010 |  1:06 pm

Michigan Atty. Gen. Mike Cox said Thursday that he has requested information from Google about the personal information it may have inadvertently collected from unsecured wireless networks in that state while operating its Street View vehicles.

"Michigan citizens concerned about their privacy deserve to know what information Google collected, and if their personal information is secure," Cox said in a statement. "We want to ensure that Michigan citizens' privacy rights were not violated, even if unintentionally."

Specifically, Cox has asked what steps Google has taken to ensure that its vehicles no longer collect this information without permission, whether Google has information from wireless networks in Michigan and how it’s storing that data, and whether it has used any of the information.

Attorneys general from some 30 states are exploring a joint investigation.

"This was a mistake, but we don't believe we did anything illegal," a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement. "We are working with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns."

Last month, Google acknowledged that it mistakenly collected fragments of data over unsecured Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries while taking pictures of neighborhoods for its Street View mapping feature. Google discovered the problem after German regulators started an inquiry.

The head of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), wrote to Google, urging it to cooperate with government privacy inquiries. Conyers also asked the Mountain View, Calif.-based company to retain the data until those inquiries are completed.

-- Jessica Guynn