ICO to revisit Google Street View case

Google Street View man

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) may reopen its investigation into Google's Street View project, following on from the publication of US report. The search giant incurred the ICO's wrath in November 2010 after it emerged that its Street View cars were collecting people's personal details using unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

We are studying the Federal Communications Commission's report and will consider what further action, if any, needs to be taken.

The ICO confirmed to IT Pro at the time that, because the breach took place before it was granted powers to issue monetary penalties, Google would not receive a fine.

Instead it had to sign an undertaking, promising the ICO that it would introduce security awareness and staff training programmes to prevent similar breaches happening in future.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission released findings from a damning report into similar breaches across the United States.

The report claims that an unnamed Google engineer had masterminded the Google Street View software to "collect, store and review" payload data, including emails, text messages and internet history, that "might prove useful for other Google services."

In a statement to IT Pro, the ICO confirmed that it was "studying the Federal Communications Commission's report and [will] consider what further action, if any, needs to be taken."

The ICO also stated that it would be in contact with Google later this year to follow up on the case.

"Google provided us with a formal undertaking in November 2010 about their future conduct, following their failure in relation to the collection of WiFi data by their Street View cars," said the statement.

"This included a provision for the ICO to audit Google's privacy practices. The audit was published in August 2011 and we will be following up on it later this year, to ensure our recommendations have been put in place."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.