Google says it never used data it gleaned
WASHINGTON — Google Inc. is telling lawmakers that it never dissected or used any of the information that it accidentally sucked up while collecting data about public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries.
In a letter to three key members of the House Commerce Committee, the company apologized for collecting fragments of e-mails, search requests, and other online activities over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.
The company got the information while photographing neighborhoods for its Street View mapping feature. Google said it was trying to gather information about the location, strength, and configuration of Wi-Fi networks so it could improve the accuracy of location-based services such as Google Maps and driving directions. Going further and collecting snippets of information traveling over those networks “was a mistake,’’ Pablo Chavez, Google’s director of public policy, wrote in the letter.
Google’s letter, released yesterday, was a response to an inquiry by Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a key member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. The letter was addressed to Barton, Markey, and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, Democrat of California.