Google has found themselves in hot water over privacy issues yet again. As we previously reported, it was discovered that the Google Street View vehicles were collecting data illegally, while taking street pictures in the US, Australia and Europe. In fact, they were doing it for three years, between 2007 and 2010, by harvesting personal data through open wifi routers as the Street View car drove by. This data included entire emails, site visit history, passwords, and other private information that the average citizen probably does not want floating around.
The worst part is that Google was not at all forthcoming with this practice, saying that they didn’t know it was happening, then blaming it on one poor fall guy. In reality, Google insiders did know that this data harvesting was occuring and, while they did not break any laws in America, they certainly broke some laws in other countries, such as Britain. Google, in fact, broke several laws in Britain with these privacy breeches and had to answer to Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO demanded that Google immediately delete all of the personal data that it had collected, and Google agreed that they would do so.
That was in 2010, yet it was revealed this week, by Google’s own admission, that a “small portion” of the information collected had not yet been deleted. Google claims that, during a “comprehensive manual review,” they found files from the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland Switzerland, Austria, France and Australia. Which doesn’t sound like a “small portion” to us. Needless to say, the countries affected are less than happy, with Gary Davis, Ireland’s deputy commissioner for data protection, citing that this is “clearly unacceptable.” He went on to say that they want further answers about this from Google immediately.
The ICO has demanded that Google give them whatever information they retained, saying, “The ICO is clear that this information should never have been collected in the first place and the company’s failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern.” And we certainly agree, just what is it that Google is doing with this private information that is causing them to lie about obtaining it and drag their feet on deleting it? One thing is certain, this latest revelation will now have Google under the microscopes of several concerned countries.
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