Connecticut heads up 30-state Google Wi-Fi probe

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will lead an investigation into Google's Wi-Fi spying scandal, which continues to create legal headaches for the company.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Connecticut Office of the Attorney General

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal plans to head up a 30-state investigation into Google's Wi-Fi data gathering scandal, his office announced Monday.

Blumenthal's investigation adds to the legal headaches for Google caused by the revelation that its Street View cars were collecting wireless "payload" data in addition to geolocation data from unsecured wireless hot spots. Ever since Google revealed the extent of its data gathering a month ago in response to inquiries from German regulators, lawyers and politicians have been lining up to express their outrage.

"Consumers have a right and a need to know what personal information--which could include e-mails, Web browsing, and passwords--Google may have collected, how, and why," Blumenthal said in a statement posted on his Web site. "Google must come clean, explaining how and why it intercepted and saved private information broadcast over personal and business wireless networks."

Earlier on Monday French government officials announced that a review of data collected there revealed that e-mail addresses and passwords were recorded by Google, although as Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan points out, the nature of Google's collection means that anything sent over an unsecured wireless connection could have been collected.

Google has argued that the data that was collected was "fragmented" because Street View cars were moving and the equipment used to record data was changing wireless channels several times a second. It has also said that it collected data inadvertently, and the company's intent will be a key part of the legal battle between Google, the state investigations, and a series of lawsuits.

Blumenthal, a Democrat, is going to have a busy summer: in addition to leading this investigation, he's running for U.S. Senate in Connecticut to replace retiring Senator Chris Dodd.