Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today demanded that Google provide access to data its Street View cars improperly collected from unsecured Connecticut personal and business wireless computer networks.
Blumenthal issued the demand in the form of a civil investigative demand -- equivalent to a subpoena. He issued the demand in cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).
Google initially claimed that the data was fragmented, but has since acknowledged that entire emails and other information may have been improperly captured. The company has called the improper data collection an accident.
Google has allowed Canadian and other regulatory authorities to review similar data, but refused to provide Blumenthal’s office the same access.
“We need to verify what confidential information the company surreptitiously and wrongfully collected and stored,” Blumenthal said. “We are compelling the company to grant my office access to data to determine whether emails, passwords, web-browsing and other information was improperly intercepted, for the same reasons that other law enforcement agencies abroad have done so. Reviewing this information is vital because Google’s story changed, first claiming only fragments were collected, then acknowledging entire emails.
“Verifying Google’s data snare is crucial to assessing a penalty and assuring no repeat. Consumers and businesses expect and deserve a full explanation, as well as measures shielding them from future spying. We will scrupulously safeguard the confidentiality of information we review.
“We will fight to compel Google to come clean -- granting my office access to improperly collected materials and protecting confidentiality, as the company has done in Canada and elsewhere.”
Google collected the data in 2008 while its cars trolled Connecticut streets taking photographs for its Street View service. Google has until December 17 to provide access to the information.