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Blumenthal Pushes for Information on Corporate Interception of Wireless Internet Signals

(Washington, DC) – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today sent letters to leading executives at Google, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Nokia, Apple and Skyhook Wireless seeking answers to questions of how why wireless internet signals are intercepted by these companies, including for the purpose of constructing wireless maps, and to determine what if any personal information is being collected and stored in the process.

“As legislators charged with protecting the rights of our constituents, it is vital that we first understand how third party privacy is assessed, valued, and treated by your businesses,” said Blumenthal in the letter. “It is for that reason that I write to request information regarding the history, practice, and details surrounding the interception by your companies of wireless data traveling over private wireless networks for the purpose of constructing WiFi maps.”

“Attempting to document the locations of personal wireless networks in individuals’ homes without their knowledge of consent raises issues regarding what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy for an ordinary citizen who installs such a network in their home for personal internet use,” the letter continues. “Those issues become more acute depending on what steps individuals take to affirmatively safeguard their privacy, the more precisely their networks are pinpointed, and the more personal network traffic that is intercepted to make that determination.”

The full text of the letter, including questions that Blumenthal has submitted to company executives, is below.