ICO reopens Google Street View privacy probe
Move follows slurp-car confessions by ads giant
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. ®
It was neither transient nor self-reported.
First up, this practice by Google was not short-lived in the slightest. In fact it would have carried on were it not for the technically minded in the community noticing attempts to access wifi networks and observing what was happening beyond the initial negotiation of the connection.
Self-reported? Google only came clean because they got caught out. Plain and simple. As for Google's spokesman on BBC News last night claiming that the data was never used and never would be, pah - if they hadn't been caught out you can guarantee the information would have been used.
You're quick to imply that the victims of this crime are themselves at fault for not taking precautions. First up in many cases the victims do not control or maintain the wireless network. Do you really expect your grandmother to be securing her wifi network? Your grandmother simply wants to plug the magic internet box into the phone line and get on with it. Let's go a step further. Let's say you come home to find that someone's been in your house because you left your front door unlocked. Are you more than happy to be the victim of a burglary, or an unknown person making note of personal details about you derived from their entry into your unlocked house?
Instead of blaming people for either being ignorant or for demonstrating a degree of trust why don't you consider ways to be helpful and conducive towards solutions?
Now there is no excuse for a further fudge. Time for the ICO to send all these data leeching parasites a message that it is OUR data and that they have NO automatic right to harvest/store/use it. I don't use Google - I choose not to, I want to keep my data as far out of their intrusive hands as is possible (yes I realise that they are leeching from a huge number of points on the net) I owe them nothing..
IMHO they have no right to use any data/signal from my premises for any reason. I can receive unencrypted TV signals at my premises - it doesn't give me the *right* to use those signals without a licence even though they are freely and easily available for me to use, and this would seem to be no different. If Google want to use my equipment or the signals from it as part of any location network they need to purchase a licence from me for the use of the signal generated by me, and if they have harvsted any data from my PC (as opposed to id stuff from the router then I expect them Prosecuted in the same way and with the same tenacity that would be the case for any private citizen. Google and the rest should not be - or be seen to be -- above the law
Time to take back our data from the parasites - or make them pay dearly for it! It really is time that both the legislators and the regulators removed their lips from the collective butt cheeks of big business and put in place some laws to protect the privacy of the public whom they are elected/employed to SERVE! Might be time for a campaign of emails to MPs to get OFCOM replaced by a proper regulator with teeth (or should that be balls?)
Coat... its Ofcoms.. and has a huge bottle of lube in the pocket for when Google calls round
Forget tootheless Data Protection, surely this is illegal? The Computer Misuse Act 1990, states unauthorised access to computer material is against the law. So isn't attaching to someones wireless network (even if open) and stealing their data is illegal?
Or does the Computer Misuse act only apply to personal individuals and not big companies?
Also what about copyright? Copying my data is copyright theft - surely the most serious crime on the planet?