updated 06:07 pm EDT, Fri May 25, 2012
Letter to US AG claims Google lied to investigators, DOJ
Representative Frank Pallone Jr (D-NJ), and John Barrow (D-GA) are pushing the Department of Justice to reopen the completed investigation of Google's Street View and Wi-Fi data harvesting while mapping America's streets. Pallone stated "In light of the FCC report on Google Wi-Spy -- which revealed Google intentionally collected personal information from Americans—I urge the Department of Justice to re-evaluate the Google Wi-Spy incident." The FCC and DoJ report on the incident found no laws were broken by Google during the mapping, despite Pallone's interpretation of the investigation that the data gathering was a “deliberate, software-design decision."
The lawmakers sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder suggesting that Google misled Congress and investigators about the Wi-Fi sniffing. “We are concerned that the facts uncovered by the FCC’s investigation put Google’s initial explanation of these events in question." stated Pallone and Barrow. Google paints the collection as a mistake.
European data-protection authorities investigated the data collection in 2010, and initial statements by Google denied any accumulation of user data. As the investigation proceeded, the company did admit to "collecting samples of payload data from open Wi-Fi networks" but added that they neither retained nor analyzed the data. In October of 2010, Google confessed to having inadvertently gathered entire e-mails, URLs, and passwords during the process.
The FCC obtained a subpoena for the engineer who developed the code to collect and store the data. The unnamed engineer invoked his Fifth Amendment right and declined to testify. A $25,000 fine was proposed for Google's active interference with the investigation.