Less than a day after coming under scrutiny by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Google acknowledged collecting confidential information in Connecticut through its “Street View” cars.
The vehicles take street view pictures for Google’s maps service. The vehicles collected the information, including e-mails, web browsing and passwords, over unsecured wireless computer networks from both homes and businesses, Blumenthal said Tuesday.
Google responded yesterday after receiving a letter from Blumenthal’s office addressing his concerns. Google also faces similar allegations in Europe, Australia and the Pacific Northwest where the vehicles used to generate street-view images collected private information.
Google called the information gathering a “software mistake” and said the data, while Google kept it, was not used “in any Google service or product.” Google told Blumenthal’s office it believes it started collecting WiFi data in Connecticut in 2008.
Blumenthal said Google may have violated legitimate expectations of privacy and wants to investigate if Google violated any law.
“We want to know what most Connecticut households want to know,” he said. “Whether, where and when they were affected by this practice. They have a right to know.”
He also encourages Connecticut residents to encrypt their wireless networks to help prevent any collection of private data.