February 16-- U.S. Reps. John Barrow, GA-12, and Mike Rogers, MI-08, have sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking a full investigation into Google’s unauthorized collection of private consumer Wi-Fi communications through its Street View mapping program.
“After almost nine months since Google first admitted to collecting this data,” the letter states, “we still don’t have answers as to how this security breach was allowed to take place and how many Americans were affected, let alone a credible assurance that it won’t happen again.”
Google announced last May that the vehicles used to collect visual data for its Street View mapping program had gathered private communications from unsecured consumer Wi-Fi networks over a three year period.
Since then, investigations by officials overseas have revealed that these captured communications included hundreds of thousands of emails, email addresses, instant messages, URLs, usernames and passwords, names, residential telephone numbers and addresses, and in one case a list of the names of people suffering from certain medical conditions, along with their telephone numbers and addresses.
“As more and more personal information winds up on the Internet, we need to make sure that private data is as safe and secure as possible,” said Congressman Barrow. “That means ensuring that the companies handling this information are responsible and accountable, and Google owes the folks who use their service an explanation of how this security breach was allowed to take place and what steps they are taking to ensure something like this never happens again.”
“Google has played an enormous role in advancing the Internet as we know it today, but Americans have a right to know the relative facts of Google’s Wi-Fi data collection activity known to U.S. consumers, regardless of whether the FCC finds a technical violation of the law,” Congressman Rogers said. “Earlier letters and investigations have not resulted in any action, leaving American consumers with little information about Google’s conduct.”