Congressional Committee Asks FTC for Info on End of Google ‘WiSpy’ Probe

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Jeff Bliss of Bloomberg reported yesterday:

A U.S. House committee chairman asked the Federal Trade Commission to provide details of Google Inc.’s collection of data from unsecured wireless networks.

The FTC on Oct. 27 announced it was ending its investigation into possible privacy violations by Google in its gathering of data for its Street View mapping project.

“I am sending a request to the FTC for a staff briefing on a number of privacy investigations including Google Street View,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns said in an e-mailed statement.

Bliss notes that Towns’ request appears to have been prompted by our November 9 letter asking for a congressional scrutiny of the FTC’s abrupt ending of its investigation of its ‘WiSpy’ probe:

Yesterday, the National Legal and Policy Center, a group that describes itself as an ethics watchdog, sent a letter to Towns, a New York Democrat, and Representative Darrell Issa of California, the panel’s ranking Republican, requesting an investigation by the committee into the Google data collection.

Meanwhile, in a separate Bloomberg story yesterday, Bliss and Todd Shields reported that the Federal Communications Commission is investigating the same matter:

“Last month, Google disclosed that its Street View cars collected passwords, e-mails and other personal information wirelessly from unsuspecting people,” said Michele Ellison, chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, in an e-mailed message. “The Enforcement Bureau is looking into whether these actions violate the Communications Act.”

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