According to a front-page Wall Street Journal story today, the Obama Administration is “preparing a stepped-up approach to policing internet privacy,” including the creation of a new watchdog agency. Ironically, this comes in the wake of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dropping its investigation of the Google “WiSpy” operation just days after the President attended a fundraiser at the home of a Google executive.
As part of its “Street View” data collection activities, Google cars collected passwords, e-mails and other personal information wirelessly from unsuspecting people in several countries. The government should get to the bottom of this massive invasion of personal privacy before the administration talks about setting up new agencies.
Yesterday I wrote Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Darryl Issa (R-CA), the chair and ranking member of the House Government Oversight Committee, urging a thorough investigation of both Google Street View and the FTC’s recent conduct during its investigation of the program. Click here for a 6-page pdf of the letter that includes additional background on Google’s extensive and close lobbying connections with the Obama Administration.
As part of Google’s “Street View” operation, fleets of specially outfitted cars drove through multiple countries collecting photos, video and, as Google now admits, sensitive personal information from WiFi connections. Yet in late October, the Federal Trade Commission abruptly ended its investigation of “Street View” – a decision that came on the heels not only of Google’s admission that its surveillance was much more serious than previously disclosed but only days after a $30,000-a-head fundraiser for President Obama at the home of a Google executive.