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FCC investigates Google street view over Wi-Fi data collection

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that it was investigating whether Google had violated laws when it collected Wi-Fi data as part of its Street View photo project.

News of the FCC investigation, which has been under way since spring, came just two weeks after the Federal Trade Commission halted its own inquiry into the Google project without taking action.

“Last month, Google disclosed that its Street View cars collected passwords, e-mails and other personal information wirelessly from unsuspecting people across the country,” Michele Ellison, chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, said Wednesday in a statement.

Street View is a project that Google began in 2007 to add street-level pictures to its mapping service. The images are collected by cars that use cameras to capture 360-degree views and link the images with GPS data. The project has expanded across the United States and into at least 30 other countries.

More recently the 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 being sent over them.

FDA moves to take the glamour out of smoking

WASHINGTON — Federal drug regulators Wednesday unveiled 36 proposed warning labels for cigarette packages, including one showing a toe tag on a corpse and another in which a mother blows smoke on her baby.

Designed to cover half the surface area of a pack or carton of cigarettes, and a fifth of any advertisements for them, the labels are intended to spur smokers to quit by providing graphic reminders of tobacco’s dangers. The labels are required under a law passed last year that gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate, but not ban, tobacco products for the first time.

Public health officials hope that the new labels will re-energize the nation’s anti-smoking efforts, which have stalled in recent years.

Some cigarette manufacturers vowed to fight the labels in federal court, saying they infringe on the companies’ property and free-speech rights. A federal judge in Kentucky ruled in January in a related lawsuit that the FDA could require graphic warning labels but that a proposed restriction intended to eliminate attractive coloring from cigarette packaging infringed on free speech. That ruling has been appealed.