Google to wipe accidental UK Street View data to escape further inquiry

Nov 19, 2010
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Google has agreed to wipe the WiFi data it captured in the UK while shooting photography for its Street View service, with the UK deputy information commissioner agreeing that in doing so the search giant will escape fines or further inquiry. Although Google admitted to accidentally gathering information from unsecured wireless hotspots, the commissioner said that there was no indication that any of the data "had fallen into the wrong hands."

"We'd have had to find that there was substantial damage or distress to individuals from the collection of snippets of e-mails, URLs and passwords" Deputy information commissioner David Smith told the BBC, "we'd have to meet that criteria for a penalty to be imposed." Smith's department faced criticism after its initial investigation concluded that "no significant breach" of data protection had been made, only to change that ruling after Canadian counterparts deemed privacy laws had been seriously violated.

"We spent less time searching than others did" Smith admitted, "if we had searched for days and days we would have found more." However he also said that the intention all along had been to use data collected by other countries to shape the UK judgement. Meanwhile, Google has agreed to offer privacy training to all of its staff.


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