Connecticut's Attorney General formally demanded that Google Inc hand over personal data collected by its Street View cars, saying that inspecting the data is crucial to assessing a penalty.
In a statement on Friday, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he had issued a civil investigative demand - which the statement likened to a subpoena - to Google, in cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection.
We need to verify what confidential information the company surreptitiously and wrongfully collected and stored, Blumenthal said.
The civil investigative demand adds to the regulatory scrutiny facing Google, the world's largest Internet search engine, stemming from a high-profile snafu involving its Street View cars. Last month, the Federal Communications Commission said it was looking into Google's Street View service to determine whether the company had violated any federal laws.
Google's Street View cars, which are well known for crisscrossing the globe and taking panoramic pictures of the city's streets, accidentally collected data from unsecured wireless networks used by residents in more than 30 countries, Google disclosed in May.
Google initially said information was typically limited to fragments of unencrypted data because the cars were always moving and because the cars' wireless equipment automatically changed channels about five times a second. But the company acknowledged in October that the cars actually collected more extensive information, including complete emails and passwords.
Google was not immediately available for comment.
The Connecticut Attorney General said that Google has until December 17 to provide access to the information. The statement said that Google has allowed Canadian and other regulatory authorities to review the data, but has refused to provide the Connecticut Attorney General's office with the same access.
Verifying Google's data snare is crucial to assessing a penalty and assuring no repeat. Consumers and businesses expect and deserve a full explanation, as well as measures shielding them from future spying, Blumenthal said.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)