FCC investigating Google 'Street View' data harvest

November 10, 2010
Google's Street View car. US government telecom regulators are investigating the collection of private wireless data by Google's "Street View" mapping service, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

US government telecom regulators said Wednesday they are investigating the collection of private wireless data by Google's "Street View" mapping service.

"Last month, Google disclosed that its Street View cars collected passwords, emails and other personal information wirelessly from unsuspecting people across the country," said Michele Ellison, Enforcement Bureau Chief of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

"In light of their public disclosure, we can now confirm that the Enforcement Bureau is looking into whether these actions violate the Communications Act," Ellison said.

"As the agency charged with overseeing the public airwaves, we are committed to ensuring that the consumers affected by this breach of privacy receive a full and fair accounting," Ellison added.

The FCC was asked in May by the Electronic Privacy Information Center to investigate whether Google had violated US federal laws against electronic eavesdropping.

Another US government body, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), last month ended its inquiry into the data collection by Street View cars without taking any action.

The FTC noted recent moves made by the company to prevent such an incident from happening again and said it was satisfied with the commitments from the search giant.

Google has pledged to strengthen its privacy and security practices after its Street View cars scooped up data from unsecured wireless networks, including entire emails and passwords, in dozens of countries.

Google announced in May that Street View cars taking photographs of cities in more than 30 countries had inadvertently gathered data sent over unsecured Wi-Fi systems.

Google has since stopped the collection of Wi-Fi data, used to provide location-based services such as driving directions in Google Maps and other products, by Street View cars.

Google is facing civil suits in Oregon and several other US states demanding millions of dollars in damages over its collection of personal wireless data and a number of countries have taken action against Street View.

Spain's data protection authority has filed suit against Google and the Czech data protection authority has banned the company from taking Street View pictures, saying they violated privacy.

Street View, which was launched in 2006, lets users view panoramic street scenes on Google Maps and take a virtual "walk" through cities such as New York, Paris or Hong Kong.

Explore further: Google 'screwed up' in capturing private Wi-Fi data: Brin

Related Stories

Canada's privacy czar launches Google investigation

June 1, 2010

Canada's privacy commissioner said Tuesday she was probing Google's inadvertent collection of data from unsecured wireless networks as its cars photographed streetscapes for its mapping service.

Recommended for you

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

Smallest 3-D camera offers brain surgery innovation

August 28, 2015

To operate on the brain, doctors need to see fine details on a small scale. A tiny camera that could produce 3-D images from inside the brain would help surgeons see more intricacies of the tissue they are handling and lead ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.