U.S. Scolds Google for Taking E-Mails

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Byline: Michael Liedtke Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Federal Trade Commission is scolding Google Inc. without punishing the Internet search leader for collecting e-mails, passwords and other personal information transmitted over unsecured wireless networks.

In a two-page letter released Wednesday, the regulatory agency expressed its displeasure with Google for allowing potentially sensitive information to be scooped up for several years before management realized it. It took an inquiry from German regulators earlier this year for Google to realize it had been inadvertently pulling and storing information from wireless networks as its cars took photos of neighborhoods around the world for its "Street View" mapping service.

The activity outraged privacy watchdogs who believed Google's activity may have violated laws against unauthorized wiretapping. It also triggered the attention of legal authorities in several of the more than 30 countries where Google's cars were snooping through Wi-Fi networks. …