By Maggie Shiels
Google's popular Street View project may have collected personal information of members of Congress, including some involved in national security issues.
The claim was made by leading advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog which wants Congress to hold hearings into what data Google's Street View possesses.
Google admitted it mistakenly collected information, transmitted over unsecured wireless networks, as its cars filmed locations for mapping purposes.
Google said the problem began in 2006.
The issue came to light when German authorities asked to audit the data.
The search giant said the snippets could include parts of an email, text, photograph, or even the website someone might be viewing.
"We think the Google Wi-Spy effort is one of the biggest wire tapping scandals in US history," John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog told BBC News.
The group conducted an experiment to highlight the vulnerability some users expose themselves to by retracing the same routes, used by Street View cars, to detect unencrypted or open networks.
The Street View car takes photos for the service
This practice is often described as "drive-by spying" and is favoured by criminals who trawl the streets to find houses or businesses using unencrypted wifi, so they can steal financial information.
Google has stressed all along that someone would need to be using the network as their cars passed by and that the in-car wifi equipment automatically changes channels roughly five times a second.
Consumer Watchdog focused on a number of high profile politicians whose homes appear on Google's Street View maps.
It found that Congresswoman Jane Harman, who heads the intelligence sub committee for the House's Homeland Security Committee, has an open home network that could have leaked out vital information that could have been picked up by Street View vehicles.
Ms Harman's office has not responded to calls for comment on the issue. Consumer Watch said it did not collect any information but did pinpoint where unsecure networks could be found.
"Our purpose was to show that members of Congress are targets just as much as every other citizen in the land" said Mr Simpson.