For Immediate Release - June 18, 2010

AG Coakley Seeks Information From Google on Data Collection During Street View Project

BOSTON - Following reports that vehicles from the "Google Street View Project" have been collecting payload data from WiFi networks, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sent a request to the Internet giant earlier this month seeking information on the scope of the data collection.

Google Street View allows users to view actual photos when using other Google services such as Google's map service or driving directions service. Street View vehicles travel all over the world to photograph homes, buildings and other landmarks to include the photos in its location-based services. The Street View vehicles also are equipped to capture WiFi network data, which includes a network's service set identifier, or SSID, and router identifier, or MAC address. Google has said that it collects this data to improve its maps and direction services.

Payload data can include email addresses, passwords, browsing data and information on web searches. Though it is unclear at this time the nature of the data collected, payload data is also known to include potentially sensitive, personally identifiable information, such as bank account information and private correspondence, which can be used to identify individuals, if it was not encrypted.

According to Google, the "Street View Project" vehicles have been grounded.

"We are concerned with any instances in which the personal information of Massachusetts consumers may have been compromised," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "My office is seeking to find out from Google exactly what information was collected and for what purposes."

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