Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has been a vocal critic of Google (NSDQ: GOOG) on privacy issues. Now that he’s about represent his state in the U.S. Senate, he’s been saying that he’ll take his privacy crusade against Google up to Capitol Hill.
Well, it doesn’t look like Google is going to play along. Blumenthal, who heads a coalition of attorneys general investigating the privacy breach in Google’s Street View cars, issued a statement today saying that the search company won’t hand over the data he has demanded.
“I am disappointed by Google’s failure to comply with my information demands,” Blumenthal said in today’s news release. “We will review any information we receive and consider whether additional enforcement steps — including possible legal action — are warranted.”
Blumenthal asked for the data last week, saying that he wanted to verify the data so he can verify it and assess a penalty.
A Google spokesperson didn’t address its reasons for refusing Blumenthal’s demand. But she did say Google is “profoundly sorry” for having mistakenly collected the data, which will be deleted “as soon as possible.” In the meantime, the company “will continue to work with the authorities to determine the best way forward, as well as to answer their further questions and concerns.”
Others in the tech industry have accused Blumenthal of being a “grandstander” who unnecessarily beats up on well-known tech companies to win votes. In addition to his attacks on Google, Blumenthal has criticized the makers of violent video games, as well as Craigslist, which he has said facilitates prostitution.
Google had been using the same cars it uses to collect images for its Street View application to map public WiFi hotspots. That data provides necessary information for the company’s locating services, which are used in smartphones and applications. But last year, the company had a privacy snafu in which the cars gathered private data transmitted over the internet, which Google has said was a mistake.
The Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into the issue briefly, but dropped it after finding that Google pledged to strengthen its privacy practices. But the Federal Communications Commission, along with state attorneys general, say they’re continuing to investigate Google’s Street View data collection.