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Google Street View data collection faces government scrutiny

updated 06:35 pm EDT, Wed May 19, 2010

FTC and DoJ said to be mulling inquiries

Representatives Joe Barton and Edward Markey have asked the FTC to begin a formal inquiry into Google's Street View practices. The lawmakers are seeking answers related to Google's collection of Wi-Fi data and other personal information as the company's vehicles roamed the country taking pictures for the Street View database.

Barton and Markey want to know exactly who has access to the collected data, what information was gathered, and the location and methods for storing the data. The FTC was also asked to determine if the actions were deceptive or illegal.

Although the government agencies have yet to publicly respond to the letter submitted by Barton and Markey, sources have told Reuters that the FTC and Department of Justice are both considering formal investigations.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, speaking at the company's I/O conference, did not try to dodge the accusations. "We screwed up. I'm not going to make any excuses about it," he admitted.

Brin suggests that the error occurred despite a variety of internal controls designed to prevent such issues. The company is said to be putting more controls in place and "bringing in third parties" to assist with the project.

"Trust is very important to us," Brin said. "We are doing everything we can to preserve that trust."



By Electronista Staff
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  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 2006

    0

    ridiculous

    Google has really gone crazy. A Google developer developed test software that could pick up Wi-Fi signals and capture them. Why is Google working on such software?

    An even bigger question is, Why is Google going around and poking into people's Wi-Fi networks in the first place? It's invading my privacy to drive by my house, find my Wi-Fi network, and publish its name and location on a list that everyone can access. Who gave them permission? Yet this part of it seems to be ignored by the media - does everyone think this is acceptable?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: ridiculous

    Google has really gone crazy. A Google developer developed test software that could pick up Wi-Fi signals and capture them. Why is Google working on such software?

    Google isn't working on such software. The developer was. How hard is that to figure out?

    An even bigger question is, Why is Google going around and poking into people's Wi-Fi networks in the first place?

    To map locations of wi-fi networks so that various devices and programs wanting GPS-like functionality could actually work. You know, like your iPod Touch or iPad. For I'm sure you'd be continually whining how it can't find your location in certain areas and all that.

    It's invading my privacy to drive by my house, find my Wi-Fi network, and publish its name and location on a list that everyone can access.

    First, who said they published it on a list that anyone can access?

    Second, they aren't publishing your address, just the location they found the signal. If you went to my neighborhood, you'd see a dozen wifi names, but you'd still have to figure out who owns each one.

    Third, the second you transmitted a wi-fi signal into the public airwaves (and into public space), you've given up your right to 'privacy' with regard to that signal. It's like putting up a large Christmas display on your front lawn, then complaining because people drove by and took pictures.

    You don't want a wi-fi signal tied to your house? Then turn it off!

    Who gave them permission? Yet this part of it seems to be ignored by the media - does everyone think this is acceptable?

    Well, unless you can show they need permission or are breaking the law (one would support the other), they don't need it.

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