Congressman, EPIC Push for Larger Google Street View Investigation

Google Streetview Red Car

The fallout from Google’s Street View Wi-Fi data grab continues. Not content with Google’s $25,000 fine for obstructing a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigation into the allegations, a U.S. Congressman and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) are calling for further investigations of the search giant.

“The circumstances surrounding Google’s surreptitious siphoning of personal information leave many unanswered questions,” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement. “I believe Congress should immediately hold a hearing to get to the bottom of this serious situation.”

Markey has spoken out against Google before, most recently opposing Google’s new privacy policy.

EPIC, meanwhile, has asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to further investigate Google’s Street View service, specifically whether Google violated the Wiretap Act when the company collected Wi-Fi data from unencrypted residential Wi-Fi networks during a 2010 run of its Street View service.

The FCC began its Google investigation in May 2010. EPIC lambasted the FCC’s ruling for being too lenient.

“The investigation conducted was inadequate and did not address the applicability of federal wiretap law to Google’s interception of emails, usernames, passwords, browsing histories, and other personal information,” EPIC executive director Marc Rotenburg said in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “The FCC ignored legal precedent holding that the contents of unencrypted Wi-Fi networks were protected by the Wiretap Act.”

Starting in 2007 Google began sending out vehicles with digital cameras attached to them so they could capture images for their Google maps service. Google Street View cars also used hidden Internet receivers to collect data that traveled across unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.

EPIC argued that by collecting data transmitted over an unencrypted Wi-Fi network, Google wasn’t protected by established legal precedent. The group insists that the DOJ is with in its jurisdiction to enforce criminal laws like the Wiretap Act.

The DOJ has yet to respond to EPIC’s letter.

Google has previously faced government scrutiny over the collection of wireless data by Street View teams all around the world. Below is a sampling of some of Search Engine Watch’s Street View coverage.

This article was originally published on V3.

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