Google's Wi-Fi Data Collection Still Under Stiff Scrutiny

Lora Bentley
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Six Privacy Principles Google Forgot


As much as Google tries to convince lawmakers and regulators that its inadvertent collection of data from unprotected wireless networks when gathering information for Street View was lawful, I don't think they're ready to drop it.


For instance, CNET News reported Friday that Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif, are requesting a hearing regarding Google's data collection practices. In a statement, the lawmakers said:

This is deeply troubling for a company that bases its business model on gathering consumer data. That failure is even more disturbing and ironic in view of the fact that Google is lobbying the government to regulate Internet service providers, but not Google.


If Congress weren't currently considering online privacy legislation, the lawmakers might have let this slide once Google explained itself. But Reps. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., released early drafts of their bill, which targets deep packet inspection and would require online companies to obtain express consent before collecting information about their users, last month.


And Google isn't exactly off the hook in other countries, either. Germany is conducting a formal investigation, as is Canada. What's more, London-based Privacy International announced it will be asking police to determine whether Google's practices violate laws in the UK. According to, Privacy International's Simon Davis claims that Google's method "is equivalent to placing a hard tap and a digital recorder on a phone wire without consent." Said Davis:

I don't see any alternative but for us to go to Scotland Yard.

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