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Connecticut AG’s Wi-Spy Deal With Google Shows Need for Congressional Hearings, Consumer Watchdog Says

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Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm

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Connecticut AG’s Wi-Spy Deal With Google Shows Need for Congressional Hearings, Consumer Watchdog Says

SANTA MONICA, CA — Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s deal with Google announced today makes it clear that Congressional hearings will be necessary if the American public is to understand fully what happened in the Wi-Spy scandal, Consumer Watchdog said.

Google agreed to admit its Street View cars had collected private user information including URLs of requested Web pages, partial or complete email communications or other information, but won’t give the AG what it collected. The stipulation will avoid going to court as settlement negotiations continue, Jepsen said. He is coordinating a 40-state probe into the Wi-Spy incident.

“The details of the biggest privacy breach in history shouldn’t be settled in secret,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google Project. “This makes it clear why Google CEO Eric Schmidt needs to testify under oath before Congress about Wi-Spy.”

Consumer Watchdog this weekend released a satirical video to underscore the need for Congressional hearings.  It is available on the Internet and is being displayed on a digital ad truck in Washington, DC this weekend.

View the video here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/mr-schmidt-goes-washington

Google also faces a class action suit over Wi-Spy in U.S. District Court in San Jose, CA.

Consumer Watchdog seeks to have Schmidt answer questions such as:

  • Why did Google gather data from the Wi-Fi networks?
  • What plans were there to use the data?
  • Who authorized the project and supervised it?
  • Who at Google has used, analyzed or otherwise accessed payload data and for what purpose?
  • If the data was collected “by accident,” why did Google seek a patent on the process that was used to gather the data?
  • How can Google assure us this won’t happen again?
  • How many Americans’ private information was collected by Google?
  • What kind of information was collected? Emails, passwords, financial information, medical data, searches, videos? What else?

Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.

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Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://insidegoogle.com

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 349 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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2 Responses to “Connecticut AG’s Wi-Spy Deal With Google Shows Need for Congressional Hearings, Consumer Watchdog Says”

  1. Pavlicko Says:

    I’m not holding my breath for the Schmidt hearing. I think a more likely scenario is that he winds up working for the current administration – or the CIA.

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