Google Reaches Deal With State AGs Over WiFi Data Breach


Credit: flickr / montuno

Last month, it looked like Google (NSDQ: GOOG) was at an impasse with Connecticut state authorities over what kind of data it would hand over related to last year’s WiFi privacy snafu. Now the company has reached an agreement on the issue with George Jepsen, Connecticut’s new Attorney General, who who is heading up a coalition of 40 state attorneys general who are examining the Google WiFi data breach. The breach occurred when Google’s Street View cars collected private data that was transmitted over public WiFi networks; Google apologized for the collection last year, saying it was a mistake and it would delete the data.

According to a news release put out by the state [PDF], Google and the state signed an agreement today that will allow the two sides to move ahead with settlement discussions. As part of the agreement, Google has clarified what the private “payload” data contained: URLs of requested web pages, partial or complete e-mail communications, and other unspecified “confidential and private information.” Google also stipulated the information was collected every day that Street View cars operated.

The wording of the release suggests that Connecticut authorities believe those admissions by Google will strengthen their hand in any settlement that ultimately comes out of the negotiations. Jepsen added that he wanted to avoid “a protracted and costly fight in the courts, although we are ready to do so if we are unable to come to a satisfactory agreement through negotiation.”

Jepsen is the replacement for Richard Blumenthal, the previous Connecticut AG who has now moved on to represent the state in the U.S. Senate. Blumenthal had a history of going after tech companies, and also targeted Craigslist over its advertisements for adult services, which have now been removed worldwide.

A Google spokesperson speaking to the Wall Street Journal didn’t comment directly on the development, repeating only that Google immediately notified authorities about the data breach once it became clear and that the company never used any payload data in any products or services.

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