Feeds

Google's Street View broke Canadian privacy laws

Password-slurping operation was work of one (creative) engineer's code

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The Canadian privacy watchdog today said Google's Street View fleet broke the law when it collected payload data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

An investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, one of dozens launched around the world earlier this year, also found the practice was the result of a single Google engineer's "careless error", as well as a wider lack of controls at the firm.

In some cases, Street View cars intercepted entire emails, said Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.

Google also grabbed passwords, phone numbers and home addresses, the investigation found, based on a sample of data examined at the firm's Mountain View HQ. It was not possible to determine how many Canadians were affected in total.

According to the commissioner, the data-harvesting operation was the product of a single engineer's "20 per cent time", when staff are encouraged to pursue projects outside their normal work. When Google decided to deploy the code to map Wi-Fi networks in the real world, the unnamed individual identified "superficial privacy implications", but did not send his designs to lawyers for review, contrary to company policy.

"This incident was the result of a careless error – one that could easily have been avoided," said Stoddart.

She did not announce any punitive measures, but recommended Google should destroy the data, tighten its privacy governance processes, and improve privacy training for its employees. The investigation will be closed in February next year, subject to confirmation Google has taken those actions. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.