Members of Congress 'have insecure home networks'

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The chair of the Intelligence Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee, Jane Harman, has a vulnerable network at her home, says Consumer Watchdog. It could have been breached by Google's Street View Wifi gathering - or anyone else, for that matter.

The consumer advocacy group is suggesting that as many as 19 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee may be in the same position.

It mimicked Google's actions, cruising the streets and looking for unencrypted networks - though it promises it didn't gather any data. It focused on the residences of members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over internet issues.
 
It found that Harman's was 'clearly identifiable and vulnerable', while there were other vulnerable networks at or near the homes of many others. They include Ed Markey - known for his staunch defence of user privacy,  he's likely to go apoplectic if his own privacy really has been
breached.

"It’s clear there are members of Congress whose networks could have been breached," says John M Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's consumer advocate. "We call on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold hearings and demand answers about exactly what information Google has in its servers. Google chairman Eric Schmidt should testify under oath."

It's rotten timing for Google, which chose today to poke its head above the parapet again and get its Street View cars back on the road.

The company says it's removed all Wifi data collection equipment from its cars, and says an independently-approved procedure is in place to get rid of all the offending software too.

"Having spoken to the relevant regulators, we have decided to start Street View driving in Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Sweden again starting next week," says Brian McClendon, VP of engineering for Google Geo.

"We expect to add more countries in time. Our cars will no longer collect any Wifi information at all, but will continue to collect photos and 3D imagery as they did before."