Democratic Reps. John Barrow (Ga.) and Frank Pallone (N.J.) have called on the Justice Department to at least consider taking another look at Google over its collection of Wi-Fi network data as part of the Street View initiative. The request comes in the light of new information uncovered in an FCC investigation.
"Previous statements and testimony from Google indicated that the privacy violation was unintentional, but a recent investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) casts doubt on those statements."
The FCC concluded its investigation with a fine, but not for the data collection. The commission said that it could not make a determination as to whether the company had violateda any rules because a key witness refused to testify, invoking the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
But company emails revealed as part of that investigation showed that the Wi-Fi collection was not inadvertent, at least on the engineer's part.
Justice did not choose to pursue Google over wiretap violations after concluding its own review, according to reports and Google statement cited by the legislators. "It's unclear whether the Department of Justice used this new information regarding Google's knowledge of privacy violations when deciding not to pursue an investigation," said Barrow and Pallone. "There's no excuse for this type of manipulation when folks' private information is being stolen. We'll get to the bottom of this issue, and we're asking the Justice Department to work with us." They pointed to an FCC letter to Attorney General Eric Holder outlining the results of its investigation and the conclusion that the Wi-Fi collection "resulted from a deliberate software-design decision."
Given that new information, they want Justice to "evaluate whether its determination was based on the facts that have come to light more recently, and, if not, whether it would be appropriate to re-open its investigation to assess whether Google's conduct may in fact have violated the law."
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