Update on Google Street View data collection: Congress asking for answers

While investigations on many aspects of Google’s wireless data collection practices are ongoing in the U.S. and many other European countries (most recently including the Czech Republic), the first major legal action against the company has come as part of a potential class action lawsuit in the Western United States.While at least four lawsuits have been filed already, early progress in a case in federal district court in Oregon prompted the judge to order Google not to delete any of the data it collected during the operation of the program, and to turn over copies of the data to the court. Following the initiation of a similar suit in Washington, D.C., three members of Congress sent a letter on May 26 to Google CEO Eric Schmidt asking for information about the nature and extent of the data the company collected, and also wanting to know what Google intended to do with the data. Google has of course said publicly that it never intended to gather the data in the first place, and had no plans for it, but it would seem Reps. Henry Waxman, Joe Barton, and Ed Markey — all of whom serve on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which Waxman chairs — remain unconvinced by Google’s statements to date on the matter. The letter from the Committee members mentions at least three U.S. federal laws that Google’s actions may have violated, and asked for responses to a dozen specific questions about the Street View program and the data Google collected, requesting a response by June 7.