John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Google Street View Privacy Debacle Far From Over

The Federal Trade Commission may have closed its inquiry into the collection of user data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks by Google’s Street View cars, but the scrutiny continues–and now Google’s relationship with the White House is a target as well.

In a letter to the House Oversight Committee, The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) called for further investigation of the breach, suggesting that the FTC may have let Google off easy because of the company’s close ties to the Obama administration.

“Like Halliburton in the previous administration, Google has an exceptionally close relationship with the current administration,” the letter says, noting former Googler Andrew McLaughlin’s new gig as U.S. deputy chief technology officer and President Obama’s recent appearance at a Democratic fundraiser held by Google exec Marissa Mayer. “The FTC’s decision to close its investigation into Google’s unauthorized gathering of private data through its Google Street View program is troubling enough. But looked at in the context of this administration’s extraordinarily close relationship with Google, no fair-minded person could look at the record so far and not believe that further investigation is warranted.”

Maybe, maybe not. That Halliburton quip sure does sting though, given Google Senior Competition Counsel Dana Wagner’s infamous comments about the company last summer. “There are a lot of companies in which I wouldn’t do this job, right?” he said at the time. “I spent seven years in the government. I very much believe in the message and the mission of the Justice Department. I would not be doing this at Halliburton, right?…The sense that I get is that their corporate values may be a little different from Google’s, on some things.”

Incidentally, the NLPC may get its wish–Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) last week told C-SPAN he plans to investigate the Google Street View privacy breach if he becomes chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


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