Connecticut, Google Make Progress in StreetView Prying Battle

The state of Connecticut and Google have reached an agreement over StreetView prying.

Between 2008 and September 2009, Google cars toured Connecticut for its StreetView service and, last year, former Attorney General Richard Blumenthal demanded to know what information the company collected from unsecured personal and business wireless networks.

Google originally refused to hand over the data, so Blumenthal filed a Civil Investigative Demand in December, which is, in effect, a subpoena.

What the agreement brokered does is allow Google, the state and the 40-state coalition it is leading, to begin negotiations to resolve the data collection issue without going to court.

“This is a good result for the people of Connecticut. The stipulation means we can proceed to negotiate a settlement of the critical privacy issues implicated here without the need for a protracted and costly fight in the courts, although we are ready to do so if we are unable to come to a satisfactory agreement through negotiation,” Attorney General George Jepsen said.

As Google collected network identification information to use in “location aware” services, it collected and stored “payload data” that contained private information, the company said, according to Jepsen.

Google said the payload data collected contained URLs of requested Web pages, partial or complete e-mail communications or other information, including confidential and private information the network user was transmitting over the unsecured network while Google’s Street View car was within range.

Google also will not contest during settlement negotiations that such private information was collected everyday that the Street View cars operated.

Negotiations with Google are continuing.

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