Connecticut’s newly-elected Attorney General George Jepsen recently announced an agreement with Google, Inc. concerning the company’s refusal to comply with a Civil Investigative Demand brought by his predecessor, freshman Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). According to a January 28, 2011 press release, to facilitate settlement discussions with the Connecticut-led, 40-state coalition, Google will stipulate that “payload data” compiled in 2008 and 2009 “contained URLs of requested Web pages, partial or complete e-mail communications or other information, including confidential and private information” transmitted by individuals across unsecured wireless networks.
As we reported in June 2010 and July 2010, Google raised privacy concerns by gathering payload data using Street View vehicles capable of storing information broadcast over unprotected Wi-Fi networks. Google’s stipulation comes after the company initially declined to share data captured by Street View vehicles that would allow for an assessment of potential legal violations. Attorney General Jepsen championed the stipulation and claimed it would permit the parties to “proceed to negotiate a settlement of the critical privacy issues implicated” while avoiding “a protracted and costly fight in the courts.” Jepsen, however, did not preclude the possibility of litigation should the negotiations falter.
Jepsen’s press release is available on the Connecticut Attorney General’s website.