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UK's ICO Demands Google Delete Street View Data

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.

  • ddpruitt
    Gotta love how politicians operate. They make it sound like they're forcing Google to get rid of the data when they're the ones who told them to hold on to it to begin with.
  • Usersname
    They've got a nerve when GCHQ and NSA are vacuuming up everyone's electronic data illicitly.

    Google's new slogan should be "Don't be less evil than the government agencies who do evil".
  • alidan
    um... secure your network if this is a concern...
    or am i missing something?
  • PedanticNo1
    So they were just accidentally accumulating that data, without even noticing it? How does this happen . . .? I would be less suspicious if if wasn't web addresses visited and email addresses being collected- we're talking about Google here, that's their bread and butter.

    Seriously, though, like Alidan said, secure your damn network. Stop being a dunce.
  • irish_adam
    11019672 said:
    um... secure your network if this is a concern...
    or am i missing something?


    they only got glimpses of your net activity as the car drove past (1-2 seconds?) but your neighbors can spy on you all the time, hell i can sit outside your house and leach your wifi 24/7 and commit all kinds of crime which you will be prosecuted for.

    This to me doesnt highlight how bad google is but more of how stupid and ignorant people still are about their wifi
  • Marcus52
    How do you "accidentally" keep track of WiFi data?

    Of course everyone should secure their own connections, but Google keeping some kind of "accidental" files only makes it easier for crooks that happen to be employed by Google to take advantage of the data. The fact that they claim it was somehow "accidental" puts the whole thing in question in my mind. What is Google really up to?