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Thursday 4th November 2010
04/11/2010 - Bad decision to let Google off the hook

Google will not face a fine or any punishment for its “significant breach” of the Data Protection Act, Christopher Graham, the UK’s Information Commissioner has ruled. This is despite the fact that Google staged a significant infringement of privacy and civil liberties, by harvesting millions of e-mails, wi-fi addresses, and passwords via its Street View cars.

Street View is now available in around 20 countries and allows users to walk through towns and cities using photos taken by the Street View cars. Google discovered that, along with legitimate data about the location of wi-fi hotspots, the cars were also mopping up personal details from unsecured networks.

Google has apologised for collecting the data, which it said had happened as the result of code written by one of its engineers being mistakenly incorporated in the Street View software."Since we announced our mistake in May we have co-operated closely with the ICO and worked to improve our internal controls," said Mr Fleischer, Peter Fleischer, Google's Global Privacy Counsel.

Gill Akaster LLP’s Head of Dispute Resolution and Managing Partner, Stephen Ramsden, comments “This is a poor decision that leaves the UK’s Data Protection legislation in a mess.  Google, a global company with vast resources and technical know how, has no excuse to make this kind of blunder. A dangerous precedent has been set.”


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