The office of the UK's Information Commissioner has given Google just over a month to delete data it collected using its Street View cars. The ICO today announced that it had served the search giant with an enforcement notice over the collection of payload data by Google’s Street View cars in the UK.
Google revealed that it had unintentionally collected WiFi data from open routers using its Google Street View cars in May of 2010. Google said that the data was only discovered when the German Data Protection Authority asked to audit the WiFi data collected by the Google Street View team. Up until the time of the audit, Google had been under the impression that it was only collecting MAC addresses and SSID information. However, the audit showed that Google had been collected fragments of payload data from open WiFi networks.
"Today’s enforcement notice strengthens the action already taken by our office, placing a legal requirement on Google to delete the remaining payload data identified last year within the next 35 days and immediately inform the ICO if any further disks are found," said Stephen Eckersley, ICO's Head of Enforcement. "Failure to abide by the notice will be considered as contempt of court, which is a criminal offence."
Data collected by Google included emails and web addresses users were viewing. Several countries launched investigations into Google's mistake including the UK, Germany and Ireland. The ICO reopened its investigation into the Google Street View project in April last year. The ICO's investigation concluded that the collection of payload data by Google "was the result of procedural failings and a serious lack of management oversight including checks on the code." However, the UK regulator also conceded that the investigation found there was insufficient evidence to show that Google intended, on a corporate level, to collect personal data.
The enforcement notice issued to Google is date June 11, 2013, and demands the deletion of the Street View data in question. That gives Google until July 16 to delete everything.