Connecticut may sue Google over Wi-Fi data request

Google missed Connecticut's deadline for handing over data collected by its Street View cameras

Google has missed a deadline set by the Connecticut Attorney General's Office for turning over data that it says was collected inadvertently by its Street View cameras.

The attorney general's office is now considering legal action against Google.

"I am disappointed by Google's failure to comply with my information demands. We will review any information we receive and consider whether additional enforcement steps -- including possible legal action -- are warranted," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement Friday.

Google didn't say why it hadn't complied with the request. In a statement, it said it is "profoundly sorry" for having collected data from the networks. It said it did not want to and has never used the data in any products or services. "We want to delete the 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," it said.

Google disclosed earlier this year that its Street View cars had been accidentally gathering data transmitted over unsecured Wi-Fi networks. The cars travel streets taking photographs for the company's mapping service. The cars used Wi-Fi signals to help determine their location, but also collected data being transmitted over the networks.

Connecticut's attorney general's office issued a so-called civil investigation demand, which is essentially a subpoena, to Google on Dec. 10 requesting that it turn over the data it collected. "We need to verify what confidential information the company surreptitiously and wrongfully collected and stored," Blumenthal said at the time. He noted that Google has allowed Canadian and other authorities to review the data but refused to grant his office the same access.

"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," he said.

Connecticut would join other states and countries that have already filed suits or initiated investigations into the matter. Suits have been filed against Google in Illinois, Washington, D.C., California and Florida.

In addition, Canada, Germany, Spain, the U.S., France, South Korea, Australia and the U.K. have complained, investigated or filed lawsuits about the privacy breach.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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