Google May Face UK Investigation

News Article - Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:30

By: Kerry Butters Category: Security

The director-general of Privacy International has asked Scotland Yard to reopen the investigation into Google over its collection of data used in Street View. The search giants were fined $25,000 last month by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for collecting personal data from unsecured Wi-Fi connections as it compiled images for Street View between 2007 and 2010.

The FCC said that Google had initially denied the claims and had repeatedly "deliberately impeded and delayed” investigations into the case by failing to respond to written requests. Google finally admitted that it had collected some data "by mistake” in 2010, but it seems that at least one employee knew all about it.

An engineer who worked on the software for Street View told senior staff that the software was designed for the purpose of data collection and is alleged to have said that he was trying to discover people’s favourite websites.

The data collected was found to have included emails, text messages, internet usage, passwords and "other highly sensitive personal data”.

On Monday, the UK Information Commissioner’s office said that they would re-examine the case and decide whether to re-open it in light of the FCC findings; they had previously closed the case after Google admitted they had retained data, telling the search company to "delete it”.

"It was previously considered by a chief inspector," Simon Davies, director-general of Privacy International said.

"The high-profile interest in coverage phone hacking in the two years since the initial investigation would mean that evidence of intentional collection of data would be impossible to shrug off”.

Google has denied that it knew the engineer in question was designing the software to collect payload data but reports suggest that at least five other employees knew of it.

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