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Google `screwed up` in capturing private Wi-Fi data: Brin

Last Updated: Thursday, May 20, 2010 - 08:54

San Francisco: Google "screwed up" by accidentally gathering private wireless data while taking pictures for its "Street View" mapping service, co-founder Sergey Brin has said.

Brin`s remarks came as two US lawmakers asked regulators whether the Internet giant had broken the law by capturing personal wireless data, while Italian and German authorities said they were looking into the matter.

Google said last week that Street View cars cruising and taking photographs of cities in over 30 countries had inadvertently gathered fragments of personal data sent over unsecured Wi-Fi systems.

"We screwed up," Brin told reporters here yesterday on the opening day of a Google conference for software developers. "I`m not going to make any excuses about it."

Brin said Google has "a lot of internal controls in place," although acknowledging that "obviously, they didn`t prevent this error from occurring."

He said the Mountain View, California-based company was "putting more internal controls in place."

"Trust is very important to us and we are going to do everything we can to preserve this trust," Brin said.

Meanwhile, Representative Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Republican Representative Joe Barton of Texas sent a letter to the chairman of the US Federal Trade
Commission, Jon Leibowitz. They asked for a response by June 2.

In their letter, the two members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce asked whether Google`s Wi-Fi data collection practices "violate the public`s reasonable expectation of privacy."

"Do Google`s actions form the basis of an unfair or deceptive act or practices that constitutes harm to consumers?" they asked. "Are Google`s actions illegal under Federal law?"

Consumer Watchdog, a US consumer advocacy group that often criticises Google, called on the FTC last week to launch a probe into the collection of private Wi-Fi information by Street View cars, calling the practice a "flagrant intrusion into consumers` privacy."


First Published: Thursday, May 20, 2010 - 08:54
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