The announcement follows the FTC's decision to close an inquiry into the Street View project, and news of international governments ramping up their criticism of the mapping program, which was launched in 2007 to gather street-level images from the U.S. and 30 other countries.
The New York Times reports, Google cars "were also recording information about Wi-Fi networks in nearby homes and businesses, data that can be used to help mobile devices determine their locations. But Google went beyond noting the existence of such networks and recorded information that was sent over them."
In a statement regarding its investigation, Michele Ellison, chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, said, "Last month, Google disclosed that its Street View cars collected passwords, e-mails and other personal information wirelessly from unsuspecting people across the country."
But, as The Post notes, the FCC has not provided much more about its investigation. Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) told the newspaper, "Intercepting communications traffic is a serious crime in the United States."
Earlier this year, EPIC urged the FCC to open an investigation into Google's Street View program. In its letter, EPIC asserts that Google's collection of personal information "could easily" amount to a violation of a federal wiretap law. Rotenberg told The Post that the act is "one of the strongest privacy laws we have because of the strong privacy presumption in network communications."
Authorities in Britain, Germany and Canada have raised concerns about the Street View program and violations of privacy.
Google issued a statement yesterday saying it was "profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted networks."