Google’s Streetview has been a big headache for Google in Europe. What was supposed to be a fun tool turned out to be a monster when it comes to privacy issues. At least, in Europe. In the US Streetview doesn’t seem to be causing near as much issues as in Europe where countries like Germany, France and Britain really made a big deal out of the images of their streets.
One of the big reasons why was off course that the countries don’t know what is happening with the data that Google gathered. And the fact that Google happened to collect wifi-data ‘by accident’ while taking pictures hasn’t helped either.
That last issue now is getting Google in trouble even more. As it turns out Google ‘accidentally’ grabbed entire e-mails, e-mail addresses, and passwords. Google itself admitted this last week in a blogpost by senior vice president for engineering and research Alan Eustace. He said:
“It’s clear from various inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords. We want to delete this data as soon as possible.”
Google said it was “mortified” and apologizes for the mistakes, but the apology might not be enough. The confession might have big consequences for the company. Britain’s Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, announced he is launching a new investigation into the Street View project. If found guilty Google could be facing fines going up to 500.000 British pounds.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said they would now re-investigate after previous investigations had finished already. It told the Independent:
“Now that these findings are starting to emerge, we understand that Google has accepted that in some instances entire URLs and emails have been captured. We will be making enquires to see whether this information relates to the data inadvertently captured in the UK, before deciding on the necessary course of action, including a consideration of the need to use our enforcement powers.”