FTC Closes Investigation Into Google's Wi-Fi Snooping

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has closed an investigation into Google Street View cars snooping into open Wi-Fi networks, with the agency declining to take action.

Google's announcement in May that its Street View cars mistakenly collected data from open Wi-Fi networks raised FTC concerns "about the internal policies and procedures that gave rise to this data collection," wrote David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a Wednesday letter to Google.

However, Google has announced improvements to its internal processes, added privacy training for key employees, and has begun a privacy review process for new initiatives, Vladeck added. The company has also promised to delete the data collected, and has told the FTC that it will not used the data in any product or service, he wrote.

"This assurance is critical to mitigate the potential harm to consumers from the collection of the payload data," Vladeck wrote.

Government agencies in several European countries have also investigated the Wi-Fi snooping. Earlier in October, the Spanish Data Protection Agency announced it was preparing to fine Google over the privacy intrusion.

As of early June, Google was also facing seven class-action lawsuits in the U.S. over the data collection.

A Google spokeswoman wasn't immediately available to comment on the FTC's letter.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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