Google facing more privacy probes

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says that "a significant number" of states will be conducting an investigation into Google's  gathering of personal data via wireless networks.

Blumenthal said in a statement that his office will lead a probe into Google's gathering of information about the data being transferred over unsecured wireless networks with its Street View cars - which Google has said was inadvertent.

Google's Street View cars gather data including photos for the company's internet mapping services. Last month, Google disclosed that the cars had also been gathering so-called "payload" data about the sites being visited over wireless networks, due to a software glitch.

Blumenthal said that "more than 30 states" participated in a recent conference call held to discuss the Google investigation.

News of the states' interest in Google's data collecting surfaced last week.

Google's disclosure that it had mistakenly gathered payload data over wireless networks has also captured the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

In May, members of Congress wrote to Google chief executive Eric Schmidt expressing concerns about the data gathering, and Rep. Joe Barton, (Republican-Texas), has called for a hearing on the matter.

Google has responded to the lawmakers with a letter stating that it believes its data gathering was unfortunate, but legal.

Google's initial disclosure about the wireless network data gathering was prompted by a request from a German privacy regulator.

Google's Street View service has garnered a great deal of attention from privacy advocates, particularly in Europe.

"Consumers have a right and a need to know what personal information - which could include emails, web browsing and passwords - Google may have collected, how and why," Connecticut's Blumenthal said in a statement.

"Our investigation will consider whether laws may have been broken and whether changes to state and federal statutes may be necessary."

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