Google Wi-Fi Scandal Concerns Most Americans

    July 28, 2010

A majority of Americans are concerned about Google’s Street View cars that collected private information from their Wi-Fi networks and want better privacy protections put in place, according to a new poll from Consumer Watchdog.

Overall, 74 percent of Americans view Google favorably, but 65 percent say the Wi-Fi scandal is one of the things that "worries them most" or a "great deal" with another 20 percent saying it "raises some concern" when considering online issues.

John-Simpson-Consumer-Watch.jpgGoogle’s cooperation with the National Security Agency without saying what information is being shared. Even more people are calling for Congressional hearings on "Google’s gathering data from home WiFi networks and its sharing of information with U.S. spy agencies like the National Security Administration, the NSA" (69% favor, 19% oppose).

"This poll shows that the Wi-Spy scandal is a political minefield for both Google and Congress, and it has the power to scar both," said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with the group.

"The company and the government need to come clean about how Google is cooperating with NSA."

The majority (90%) of consumers support more laws that protect the privacy of their online personal information.  Among these, 67 percent say it is "very important" and there is not much difference based on age. Consumers under 50, including those ages 18-29, are just as likely to say more privacy laws are needed as those over the age of 70.

A "make me anonymous button" is favored by 86 percent of consumers, followed by preventing online companies from tracking personal information or web searches without their approval (84%).

"It’s time for Congress to act on these issues and for Google and the government to deliver real privacy protections like a make me anonymous button or a do not track list," said Simpson.

"These privacy protections are ripe for ballot initiatives in states like California if Congress and statehouses won’t act."