Google Could Have Collected WiFi Data From Members Of Congress

    July 8, 2010

Google’s Street View cars could have recorded communications from some members of Congress, involved in national security issues, via unencrypted WiFi connections, according to an investigation by Consumer Watchdog’s InsideGoogle.

Rep. Jane Harman, D-CA, chair of the Intelligence Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee and former member of the Intelligence Committee has at least one wireless network in her Washington, D.C., home that could have been breached by Google.

The consumer group has written Harman and 18 other members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee whose homes are pictured on Google’s Street View which suggest their WiFi networks were scanned, and called for immediate hearings.

Jamie-Court-Consumer-Watchd "This is the most massive example of wire tapping in American history and even members of Congress do not appear to be immune," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, which published the results on its website.

"Whether it’s compromising government secrets or our personal financial information, Google’s unprecedented WiSpying threatens the security of the American people and Congress owes Americans action."

Over the last week, to gauge the potential threat posed by Google’s WiFi activities, the nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group "sniffed" some Congress members’ networks to see if they were vulnerable to the Internet giant, but avoided gathering any communications. The investigation focused on a handful of members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Internet issues.

Of the five residences the consumer group checked, one, Harman’s, had a clearly identifiable and vulnerable network. The other four residences had vulnerable networks in the area that may belong to the members of Congress.

Besides Harman’s unencrypted network, Consumer Watchdog found vulnerable networks near the Washington residences of Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA; Ed Markey, D-MA; John Dingell, D-MI and Rick Boucher, D-VA that could have been breached by Google. The networks could not be definitively tied to the Congressmen’s residences, however.

"It’s clear there are members of Congress whose networks could have been breached," said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate.

"We call on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold hearings and demand answers about exactly what information Google has in its servers. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt should testify under oath."