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ICO reopens Google Street View privacy probe

Move follows slurp-car confessions by ads giant

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The Information Commissioner's Office is reopening its investigation into Google's collection of unsecured Wi-Fi by its fleet of Street View cars.

The change of heart by the regulator comes in the light of tougher stances taken by other countries, and Google's confession on Friday that its cars collected entire emails, URLs and passwords.

The search giant previously said it had only collected MAC addresses and information to identify individual networks.

The UK privacy regulator looked at Street View snooping earlier this year but concluded that no meaningful personal information was collected. Google claimed the data was collected accidentally.

A spokesman for the ICO told the Guardian that it would look again at the data slurp.

The spokesman said:

Earlier this year the ICO visited Google's premises to make a preliminary assessment of the payload data it inadvertently collected while developing Google Street View. While the information we saw at the time did not include meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person, we have continued to liaise with, and await the findings of, the investigations carried out by our international counterparts."

"Now that these findings are starting to emerge, we understand that Google has accepted that in some instances entire URLs and emails have been captured.

We will be making enquires to see whether this information relates to the data inadvertently captured in the UK, before deciding on the necessary course of action, including a consideration of the need to use our enforcement powers.‬

Google has appointed a director of privacy to oversee improvements in its practises and promised to train all staff and consider the privacy implications of all its products. ®

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