It’s been a year since UK officials re-opened the privacy case involving Google and its Street View mapping feature, and the Information Commissioner’s Office is letting Google off the hook as long as they delete any remaining data within the next 35 days. However, failing to do so could result in legal action.
Google’s Street View cars were discovered to have gathered data from unsecured WiFi networks in several countries. This data was picked up while the Street Views cars drove around taking 360-degree pictures of roads and surroundings. If Google abides and deletes all of this data within the given time period, they would be free of any charges.
UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office concluded that the harm caused to individuals by Google’s actions didn’t meet the level required to issue any kind of penalty against Google. This was based on analysis of the WiFi data Google recorded during the ICO’s investigation.
Furthermore, the ICO has said that they’ll be following Google carefully from now on, saying that they “will not hesitate to take action” if Google ends up playing around with fire again. This isn’t too surprising, considering that the company was let off pretty easy, so it seems the ICO is treating this as a probation of sorts.
However, the ICO believes that if Google ends up deleting all of its UK data, the company may find more data in other storage discs in the future. Google ended up finding four discs early last year and reported it to the ICO, but the company found another disc back in October that is said to possibly contain more UK data. The ICO is afraid that Google will find more discs, but the company has been ordered to reveal any more discs that are found in the future, or legal action may be taken.