ICO reopens Google Street View case

Google Street View man

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is to reopen its investigation into Google Street View and the personal data it collected on unsecured wireless networks.

The search giant had agreed to delete all the information it gathered in November 2010, and told the privacy watchdog that the data was collected in error.

It seems likely that information was deliberately captured during the Google Street View operations.

However, the ICO has reopened the case following a report by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC found that emails, passwords and other data had been amassed from millions of people using software written by an engineer.

The ICO confirmed to IT Pro last month that it was studying the FCC's report and considering what action, if any, it would take in light of its findings.

The FCC report said a wide range of personal data together was collected by the Street View team.

"It therefore seems likely that such information was deliberately captured during the Google Street View operations conducted in the UK," said Steve Eckersley, the ICO's head of enforcement.

"During the course of our investigation, we were specifically told by Google that it was a simple mistake, and if the data was collected deliberately, then it is clear that this is a different situation than was reported to us in April 2010."

As a result, confirmed Eckersley, the ICO has reopened its investigation and asked the firm for more information about the data it collected.

Google said it would co-operate with the ICO in a new investigation.

"We're happy to answer the ICO's questions. We have always said that the project leaders did not want and did not use this payload data. Indeed, they never even looked at it," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.