Around 30 US states are considering a joint investigation into whether Google broke federal or state laws by collecting fragments of Wi-Fi packet data using Street View vans.
The probe, which will be led by Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal, will use pooled resources from all the states participating, Blumenthal said in a statement.
Investigators will determine whether Google's admission that its Street View fleet had accidentally been collecting Wi-Fi packet data was one of criminal liability, and what personal data the search giant collected.
“Consumers have a right and a need to know what personal information -- which could include emails, web browsing and passwords -- Google may have collected, how and why,” Blumenthal said.
The probe will also seek to ascertain the identity of the engineer or engineers involved in inserting what Google called ‘unauthorized’ code into the hot-spot sniffing program.
More than 30 states participated in a conference call discussing the investigation, Blumenthal said, and a “significant number” of them will likely be involved.
“Street View cannot mean Complete View -- invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” he said.
The Street View scandal has caused a kerfuffle internationally, with Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Australia among the numerous countries conducting their own investigations.
But views on the severity of the gaffe are mixed, with Australia's privacy commissioner Karen Curtis downplaying the privacy risk, despite an outspoken attack by communications minister Stephen Conroy over the data collection.