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MP slams ICO for 'lily-livered' Google probe

Withering words on Wi-Fi wimpishness

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The Information Commissioner faces sharp criticism in Parliament over his handling of an investigation into Google's Street View Wi-Fi data harvesting operation.

Tory MP Robert Halfon admonished Christopher Graham ahead of a backbench debate on Google and internet privacy today.

"The UK Information Commissioner has been lily-livered," he said.

"When its officers first investigated this outrage, they visited Google's headquarters, had a nice chat with its senior executives, went through their computers and decided to do nothing."

The ICO reopened its investigation earlier this week, after more thorough examinations of similar data by foreign privacy regulators found it included passwords and the contents of emails.

"For its part, Google trotted out the same line," said Halfon.

"[It said] 'this is a terrible mistake. We are mortified. It won't happen again.'

"A few weeks ago, I visited its offices and was reassured about the 'fragmentary' and harmless nature of the data. Since then, however, it has been pressured into a U-turn by freedom of information requests in other countries. Google's invasion of privacy is starting to look like a pattern."

The debate, in Westminster Hall from 2.30pm today, will not only cover Google but also other firms such as Facebook, and will be framed by the Harlow MP's call for an "internet bill of rights" to protect the individual online. ®

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