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10:58 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Congressman calls for hearing on Google Street View data

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 9:59 am

Google may be facing new investigations into its Street View program, which collected 600 gigabytes of personal data including e-mails, passwords, pictures and web searches while its vehicles roamed the streets.

This is not a new story. It goes back to 2010, when the Europeans ruled Google broke the law. But the story picked up steam again late last month, when Google released a full FCC report that revealed the snooping was not accidental. Instead, as The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday, "the engineer who intentionally wrote the software code that made it possible for Street View cars to capture emails, passwords and other data from unprotected wireless networks told fellow engineers and a senior manager that he had done so."

Today's news is that European regulators may reopen the probe into the program. The New York Times reports:

"Many regulators in Europe feel misled by Google in the matter, said Jacob Kohnstamm, a Dutch regulator who is the chairman of the top European privacy panel. He called for a stronger global response.

"'It is time for data protection authorities around the world to work together to hold the company accountable,' Mr. Kohnstamm said.

"Google executives, he said, had reassured European lawmakers, often in personal appearances, that the data collection, which was illegal in Europe, was unintentional and the work of one engineer working secretly."

Also, yesterday, Rep. Ed Markey from Massachusetts called "for an immediate Congressional hearing to get to the bottom of this very serious situation."

"Google needs to fully explain to Congress and the public what it knew about the collection of data through its Street View program, why it impeded the FCC investigation, and what it is doing to ensure appropriate privacy safeguards are in place to protect consumer's personal information," Markey said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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