Google given 35 days to delete Street View wi-fi data

24/06/2013

Google has been given 35 days to delete any remaining data it collected ‘mistakely’ from its Street View mapping service.

The ultimatum, issued by the UK Information Commissioner's Office, means Google has just over a month to delete the data from its databases or face criminal proceedings.

However, the UK watchdog did not impose a fine on the internet giant.

The ICO’s investigation into Google reopened last year after further revelations about the data taken from wi-fi networks.

During that inquiry, additional discs containing private data were found.

Google had previously pledged to destroy all data it had collected, but admitted last year that it had "accidentally" retained the additional discs.

The ICO has told the search giant it must inform it if any further discs of information are discovered.

"Today's enforcement notice strengthens the action already taken by our office, placing a legal requirement on Google to delete the remaining payload data identified last year within the next 35 days and immediately inform the ICO if any further discs are found," said Stephen Eckersley, the office's head of enforcement.

"Failure to abide by the notice will be considered as contempt of court, which is a criminal offence."
However, unlike authorities in the US, the ICO said it would not be issuing a fine.
It concluded that the collection of the data in 2010 was due to "procedural failings and a serious lack of management oversight", but agreed with Google's assertion that the company did not order the actions at a corporate level.

In a statement on Friday, Google said: "We work hard to get privacy right at Google.

"But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue. The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it.

"We co-operated fully with the ICO throughout its investigation, and having received its order this morning we are proceeding with our plan to delete the data."

The company was fined by $25,000 (£15,700) by the US Federal Communications Commission in April last year.

The FCC levelled heavy criticism at the company, saying it had "deliberately impeded and delayed" the investigation for months.

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