Google given ultimatum to delete data

By Danielle Middleton topicIcon Internet News

Google given 35 days to fix data problems

A UK regulator has given Google 35 days to delete personal data collected during the 2010 compilation of its Street View service.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) had previously investigated the internet giant in 2010 when it was discovered that Google had used Wi-Fi outlets to locate properties on the image service.

How Google got it wrong

Google Street View Cars used local Wi-Fi networks to make sense of the location of the images they were collecting; however, the software harvested any information taken from unsecured Wi-Fi connections which included personal emails, instant messages and other sensitive information.

In 2010, the ICO did not fine or press charges on the corporation for the unauthorized activity, on the basis that all the data was deleted. Meanwhile, the US Federal Communications Commission fined Google £25,000 in April 2012 for their infringement.

Despite this leniency the ICO reopened its investigation into Google last year, after it was revealed that additional discs containing private data were not destroyed as instructed.

The error occurred when an unnamed Google engineer wrote a piece of software which would pull data from unsecured Wi-Fi connections, as the specially adapted cars drove around taking panoramic images.

Google will mend fences

Google has stated they did not intend to gather the data nor do they want it; while regulators around the world have agreed that the problem seems to have been with low level management, not a misguided top level decision.

On Friday Google stated: "We work hard to get privacy right at Google.

"But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue. The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it.

"We co-operated fully with the ICO throughout its investigation, and having received its order this morning we are proceeding with our plan to delete the data."

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword said: "UK regulators don't seem to be as appalled at the privacy breach as Germany and the US and I think 35 days is still very lenient.

"Google have had three years to fix the error and have managed to go unpunished in the UK despite not fulfilling their side of the bargain."