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CM Jim Graham says Google commits “big brother-like” invasion of privacy

by Prince Of Petworth May 20, 2010 at 11:30 am 60 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user Wayan Vota

This is so wild at first I thought it was a hoax. From a CM Jim Graham press release:

Today, Council Member Jim Graham released the following statement on Google’s revelation that it has been collecting data from open wi-fi networks as part of its “Street Views” mapping system.

“This is a shocking revelation that may have exposed countless Washingtonians to a “big brother-like” invasion of privacy,” Council Member Graham said.

“In this digital age, it is essential that government take a strong stand to protect its citizens from the unwanted erosion of privacy by large corporations. Should we discover that laws have been violated, we must act swiftly to enforce those laws to the fullest extent.”

Google has been sending cars with cameras down streets for the past four years capturing images for its street view maps. Late Friday, May 14, Google announced they had collected data from unprotected wi-fi networks in homes that their street-view-camera cars drove by. This means Google could have intercepted any activity on those wi-fi networks, including emails sent, documents/photos downloaded, instant messages exchanged, websites visited, etc.

Graham has asked Attorney General Peter Nickles and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director Linda Argo to investigate any anti-trust violations of the D.C. Code (28 D.C. Code 3903(a)(1)) relating to the city’s privacy laws and whether this constitutes a pattern or practice of abuse. He has also asked Attorney General Nickles whether the communications privacy issue is something that the District could pursue, or whether it is primarily a federal matter.

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