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Google misses German regulator Street Car Wi-Fi data grab deadline

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Google has failed to hand over some data it inadvertently collected from Wi-Fi networks to German regulators.

Earlier this month German prosecutors launched an investigation into the company’s interception of private Wi-Fi data, after Google admitted that its world-roving Street View cars had scooped up information sent over Wi-Fi networks, thereby contradicting previous assurances that no such data had been collected by its snoopmobiles.

Google decided to delay handing over some of the original hard drives that contain the payload data to the DPA (data protection authority) in Hamburg because it was worried that such a move could lead to a hefty fine.

The company, which intercepted around 600GB of data in 30 countries, was required to submit the drives by midnight on Wednesday.

Last week Google halted removal of the personal data its Street View cars collected from open Wi-Fi networks, following what the ad broker called "some uncertainty" over the deletion process.

Mountain View has asked for time to mull the legal implications of handing the private data over to the regulator in Hamburg. According to the Financial Times such a move could break German communications law.

Hamburg’s data protection commission Prof Dr Johannes Caspar dismissed Google’s legal concerns by saying the company would not face criminal action by divvying up the hard drive to the regulator.

The Register asked Google to comment on this story, it gave us this statement:

"Since our announcement two weeks ago that we had mistakenly been collecting Wi-Fi payload data, we’ve been working hard to address the concerns of data protection authorities around the world.

"The data protection authority in Hamburg has made a number of requests - including to be given access to an original hard-drive containing the payload data, and to a Street View car.

"We want to cooperate with these requests - indeed we have already given him access to a car - but as granting access to payload data creates legal challenges in Germany which we need to review we are continuing to discuss the appropriate legal and logistical process for making the data available.

"We hope, given more time, to be able to resolve this difficult issue." ®

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