Google’s problems surrounding the breach of privacy laws by Street View cars in the U.K. have not yet gone away. Following a recent inquiry into the matter, a letter from the U.K. Information Commissioner has said that Google has committed a “significant breach” of Data Protection Laws in U.K.
Google had sent out cars equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity to collect data for Street View Maps. They also ended up collecting email addresses, passwords and other personal data from unsuspecting residents whose Wi-Fi networks were unsecured and lay on on the Street View cars’ routes.
The Commissioner, Christopher Graham has asked the company to sign an undertaking to ensure against data protection breaches in the future. Google will also be required to delete all the illegal data at the earliest. The commision has, however, not imposed any fine this time, saying instead, that if the error is repeated, Google would face much more severe legal action.
In the U.S.A., the case was also recently cleared, letting Google get away with a little more than a telling off. Google still faces similar charges in Italy, France Spain, Germany and Canada. The French and German courts might not be as forgiving as the English and Americans.
Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer has said, “We are profoundly sorry for mistakenly collecting payload data in the UK from unencrypted wireless networks.”
The Information Commissioner’s Office had conducted a similar enquiry in July, but it was conducted by non-technical members who had given a clean chit to Google at that time. The ICO is also facing criticism for this unprofessional conduct.
Facebook must be extremely jealous of Google’s good fortune. The popular social network seems to be forever getting negative press about privacy issues even though they have never committed as grave an error as Google. And yet, at present Google seems to be getting away without even a slap on the wrist!