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Koster seeking info on how Google collects its 'street view' knowledge of Missourians

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 4, 2010 - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says he's concerned that the Google search engine may be searching a bit too much, when it comes to regular Missourians.

Koster announced today that he has sent a letter to Google, "asking the company to provide details on personal information it may have collected from Missourians in connection with Google’s Street View Service."

Koster's statement cites "recent media reports and admissions by the company (that) indicate ... as part of Google’s effort to collect data for its mapping service Street View, the company may have gained access to residents’ communications sent over public Wi-Fi networks."

"I am concerned at the possibility that Missourians’ privacy could have been violated by Google’s tactics for gathering information," Koster said in a statement. "We expect Google to provide information to us so we can ascertain whether there is any threat to Missourians’ private information, and take action if necessary to protect it."

His letter "asks Google to explain to the Attorney General’s office the nature of the data it collected in Missouri, how that data were used, to whom it was disclosed, and protections that Google had in place to ensure the information would not be improperly utilized," Koster's statement said. "The letter also asks that Google preserve all the data it collected from Missouri residents until the company has adequately answered the state’s questions and appropriate regulatory agencies also have the opportunity to investigate the situation."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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