Connecticut Seeks Street View Data Gathered by Google

Connecticut issued a civil investigative demand to Google Inc. for data collected by the company’s Street View cars, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in an e-mailed statement.

The demand, the equivalent of a subpoena, is for the state to gain access to data improperly collected from unsecured Connecticut business and personal wireless computer networks, according to Blumenthal. Google has allowed Canadian and other authorities to review similar data but refused Blumenthal’s office access, the statement said.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ended its investigation of Google’s collection of data over unsecured wireless networks in October after the company said it would improve privacy safeguards in its Street View mapping project. Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, uses cars to photograph streets and houses to update Street View. The company admitted the cars also collected data from Wi-Fi networks, prompting an outcry by privacy advocates.

“We are compelling the company to grant my office access to data to determine whether e-mails, passwords, web-browsing and other information was improperly intercepted,” Blumenthal said.

Google apologized in an e-mailed statement for what it called mistakenly collecting the data.

“We did not want and have never used the payload data in any of our products and services,” the statement said. “We want to delete this data as soon as possible and will continue to work with the authorities to determine the best way forward, as well as to answer their further questions and concerns.”

Google collected the data in 2008 when its cars were in Connecticut taking photographs for its Street View service. The company has until Dec. 17 to provide the information, Blumenthal said.

Thirty-nine states, including Connecticut, have been among those investigating the service.

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