Google's decision to ignore a Civil Investigative Demand issued by Richard Blumenthal may work out all right for the company. New Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell have reached an agreement with Google that should keep the matter from going to court.
A little background information, since this matter has been dragging on for so long: then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal began investigating in June whether Google's Street View cars had collected sensitive WiFi data. Other states joined the inquiry (the coalition now has 40 members), and eventually, Blumenthal issued the equivalent of a subpoena.
Jepsen's taken a more subtle approach. The only problem for Google is that the company's had to make some uncomfortable admissions.
A statement issued by Jepsen's office indicated, "Google has now stipulated that while collecting network identification information for use in offering 'location aware' services, it did in fact collect and store the payload data that contained private information."
Then the statement continued, "In particular, Google stipulates, for purposes of settlement discussions, that the payload data collected contained URLs of requested Web pages, partial or complete e-mail communications or other information, including confidential and private information the network user was transmitting over the unsecured network while Google's Street View car was within range. . . . Google also will not contest during settlement negotiations that such private information was collected every day that the Street View cars operated."
One other important point: if the private negotiations with Google don't go well, Jepsen's reserved the right to scrap this agreement and take the whole matter to court.