Missouri’s attorney general sends letter to Google in Wi-Spy scandal

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Missouri Atty. Gen. Chris Koster sent a letter to Google on Friday asking for details on personal information the Internet giant said it inadvertently collected when taking photos for its StreetView service.

In the letter, Koster said he wanted to know how the intercepted information was used and to whom it was disclosed. He also asked that Google not dispose of the data until his and other agencies investigating the matter had the chance to “scrutinize this situation.”


He said it was ‘unclear’ whether Google had violated state or federal law.

Attorneys general in several states are considering similar steps, a person familiar with the situation said. The Federal Trade Commission is also investigating. And Google faces lawsuits in Oregon and other states.

[Updated 6:03 p.m.: Google spokeswoman Christine Chen said: ‘As we have said before, this was a mistake. Google did nothing illegal and we are working with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns.’ She added that Google has not deleted any U.S. data.]

Google’s data collection has also angered European officials. Google on Thursday bowed to the demands of France, Germany and Spain to turn over the data.

Last month, Google revealed it had been collecting 600 gigabytes of personal data from the roving, camera-mounted cars in its StreetView program. That includes private information from unsecured personal Wi-Fi networks.

Google has been trying to defuse the situation. In an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said the software code that spurred the data collection violated Google’s policies. He said Google would make public the results of internal and external audits of its Wi-Fi data collection practices.

-- Jessica Guynn