Feeds

Google responds to privacy probe

Won't delete US data yet

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google has responded to a letter from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce which wrote asking what action the company had taken over its harvesting of private Wi-Fi data.

The online advertising and search giant said it was unable to tell the committee how many networks it had stored payload data from, or how many US consumers or households were affected.

It said it began mounting antennas to its Street View cars to collect Wi-Fi data in late 2007 and they were fitted on all of Google's Street View cars by early 2008. The collection ended in May 2010 as the privacy row deepened.

The cars collected Wi-Fi data including MAC addresses, SSID, signal strength, data rate, channel of broadcast and encryption method. It was, teh firm said, collected in order to improve the accuracy of location-based services. Google stressed again that the collection of payload data was a mistake and that because the system changed channels five times a second, and the car was moving, it was unlikely to have collected more than small fragments.

But Google said it had not conducted any analysis to find out if this was true. In fact the payload data has only been accessed twice - once by the engineer who wrote the code and once as part of the investigation by Google.

The letter, available here, said Google had already deleted data collected in Ireland, Denmark and Austria at the request of data protection authorities in those countries, but it has kept the data in the US because of pending legal action.

Google said it did not believe it had broken any laws by accessing open networks. But the letter said: "We emphasize that being lawful and being the right thing to do are two different things, and that collecting payload data was a mistake for which we are profoundly sorry."

It said it was reviewing data collection for all its services to stop similar problems happening again.

In total Google collected some 600GB of network data from 30 countries. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.