France demands remaining Google Street View data


by Steve Evans| 01 August 2012

The search giant is still in possession of harvest Street View data, despite telling authorities it would delete what remained

Google Street View

French data protection authorities have demanded Google hands over any remaining payload data gathered by its Street View cars.

The news comes just days after it was revealed Google had failed to delete all the data it had gathered from UK Wi-Fi networks, contravening an order from the ICO.

The French data authority, called CNIL, has revealed that Google also informed it that it was still in possession of some of the harvested data, despite being told to delete it all. The CNIL has now demanded that Google hands over the remaining data so it can investigate.

"Like its British counterpart, the CNIL has asked Google to make available the data in question and to keep secure time to conduct all necessary investigations," the CNIL said on its site.

"The ICO is clear that this information should never have been collected in the first place and the company's failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern," the ICO said in response to Google's admission that it still holds some of the data.

Google's Street View service mapped thousands of miles of streets all over the world, but it was revealed in 2010 that the cars taking photographs had also been harvesting data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

At first it was thought that no personal data had been collected by Google subsequently admitted that usernames, passwords and in some cases entire emails had been gathered.

Google then said the data had been collected by accident, but it was again subsequently revealed that wasn't the case. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a report in which it claimed the software engineer behind the Street View service had told two colleagues, one a senior manager, that the software could harvest data.

The UK ICO decided that while Google had been guilty of a "significant breach" of the Data Protection Act, no monetary penalty would be handed out. That caused a storm of protest from privacy groups. More recently the ICO said it would reopen its investigation into Google Street View, following the FCC report.

Google had already been fined €100,000 by French privacy authorities over the data harvesting incident. The CNIL also heavily criticised Google when its new data privacy policy was introduced and said it would lead an investigation into the "lawfulness and fairness" of the new system.

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