Missouri AG looks into Google Wi-Fi mess

His letter to Google is a sign that U.S. states are taking an interest in the affair

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is asking Google to answer questions about how the company's widespread wireless-network sniffing activities may have affected local residents.

In a letter to Google Friday, Koster says it's not clear whether Google broke state law, but adds that "there can be no doubt that the company's conduct implicates the privacy concerns of Missouri residents."

The attorney general asked Google to explain how Wi-Fi data collected by the company's StreetView vehicles was used and what it's done to keep the potentially sensitive information safe. He also asked Google to hold on to the data until the appropriate regulators can study the matter.

"We expect Google to provide information to us so we can ascertain whether there is any threat to Missourians' private information, and take action if necessary to protect it," Koster said in a statement.

This latest development shows that state authorities are also taking an interest in a controversy that has reportedly caught the attention of U.S. regulators. Agencies in France, Germany and Canada have already opened investigations, and Google is facing at least seven class-action lawsuits over the matter.

Google StreetView cars, which drive around cities taking photos for use with Google Maps, had been collecting Wi-Fi networking data for years to boost the accuracy of some of its location-based products. But the company recently admitted that they have also inadvertently recorded the contents of e-mails and Web pages on unsecured wireless networks.

Google blamed the debacle on the actions of a single engineer and is now investigating the matter. In the meantime, pressure from regulators worldwide is piling up.

Consumer advocate John Simpson said he was happy to see Missouri asking for an explanation. "Google's ... operation compromised consumers' privacy in the very heartland of America," said Simpson, an advocate with California's Consumer Watchdog, in an e-mail message. "The Internet giant needs to be held accountable."

Google could not immediately be reached for comment.

Robert McMillan can be reached at robert_mcmillan@idg.com. He is on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/bobmcmillan.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacyGoogleWi-Figoogle street view

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?