ICO U-turns on Street View
The Information Commissioner's Office has changed its mind about Google's Street View and decided that it is after all in breach of the Data Protection Act.
The watchdog will require Google to sign a piece of paper promising not to break the law again.
The ICO will also audit Google's privacy practices.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: "It is my view that the collection of this information was not fair or lawful and constitutes a significant breach of the first principle of the Data Protection Act. The most appropriate and proportionate regulatory action in these circumstances is to get written legal assurance from Google that this will not happen again – and to follow this up with an ICO audit.”
The ICO said: "The Commissioner has rejected calls for a monetary penalty to be imposed but is well placed to take further regulatory action if the undertaking is not fully complied with."
The Metropolitan Police last week dropped its investigation into the Street View.
The search and ad giant recently appointed a privacy director to help it sort out internal practices and oversee privacy in all its products. This came after it admitted that its mass Wi-Fi snoop from its fleet of Street View cars had slurped up passwords and entire emails and URLs. The company insists the data was collected accidentally.
The U-turn ends a less than glorious episode for the ICO which initially cleared Google's collection of Wi-Fi data by insisting it contained no personal information.
Then the ICO reopened its investigation in the wake of tougher action by other privacy bodies around the world.
Last week it was attacked by MPs, who described its behaviour as "lily-livered".
The Czech Republic recently stopped Google's Street View cars collecting more pictures until Google applies for a data processing licence.
Big Brother Watch's Alex Deane said: "The Information Commissioner’s failure to take action is disgraceful.
“Ruling that Google has broken the law, but then taking no action against it, shows the Commissioner to be a paper tiger. The Commissioner is an apologist for the worst offender in his sphere of responsibility, not a policeman of it.
"If Google can harvest the personal information of thousands of people and get off scot-free, then the ICO plainly has a contempt for privacy."®
Growls? Whimpers more like..
"The watchdog will require Google to sign a piece of paper promising not to break the law again." So yet again the mighty ICO sends a major transgressor to the naughty step.
The ICO is a massive joke that costs millions, making it so unfunny I can't actually fully describe how bad it is.
Because we have told Google not to do it okay...all is okay... and yes we are using our powers correctly.
Dont mess with the ICO as you could be asked to sign a very little useless piece of paper.
So the Moto is "Break the rule, because nothing will happen"
I just dont know why the Govt did not get rid of the useless ICO Office during the rounds of the spending review...
Don't forget Ball-less
ICO growls, eh? My guts growl louder than the ICO. My cat is still after Christopher Graham's job and will remain so until he shows some balls and takes proper action like fining corporations.
Remember Neville Chamberlain and "I have in my hand a piece of paper"? A piece of paper means nothing and Mr Graham knows it.
Come on Chris, surely you can show us that you've got a pair?