Google bosses ‘knew about Street View data snooping’

29/05/2012

Google could face further legal action for using its Street Cars to harvest data from resident’s unsecured WiFi networks. The details were revealed in a recent US Federal Communications Commission report that found the company's Street View cars not only photographed streets but recorded wi-fi network details, as well as "names, addresses, telephone numbers, URLs, passwords, email, text messages, medical records, video and audio files" back in 2010.

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The study alleged that Google engineers and executives knew their Street View cars were stealing personal data from citizens but chose to cover it up.

Despite its claims to the contrary, it appears the company knew about the issue as early as 2007, with at least one senior manager in the US being warned that the cars were snooping.
The report revealed that the Google employee who wrote the code for the Street View software told his superiors of its personal data collection.

It's unclear what Google intended to do with the information, but since having admitted to the theft in 2010, the company has insisted the snooping was a mistake.

The study concluded that Google broke no laws, but the FCC fined the internet search outfit $25,000 because it claimed the company obstructed its investigation and "willfully and repeatedly violated Commission orders to produce certain information".

The UK data privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is now looking into the privacy study conducted by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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