Google employees were aware of Street View data breach

May 2nd, 2012 by admin Leave a reply »
Google Street View Car in Toronto's Chinatown,...

Google Street View Car - Is it snooping around collecting personal data?

These days ‘googling around’ or have you ‘googled’ has become a part of English vocabulary although the word does not really have any meaning! But google is synonymous with search and we have almost stopped using the word search and easily use the word ‘google’ ! Such is the power of this search engine and the company that has coined this term – Google Inc. It is clear that we just can’t do without Google and consider it to be perfect and flawless! Well, Google just recently made a mistake and is under scrutiny. Let us read how.

Google’s Street View cars were collecting personal data

According to the FCC report, one of Google’s engineers, Marius Milner, informed colleagues and a Senior Manager about collecting unencrypted Wi-Fi data.

The history

In May 2010, the ICO found out that Google had not collected any personal data. However, later in 2010, ICO claimed that Google had in fact collected personal details and thus had broken the law. Nevertheless, at that time ICO decided not to fine Google.


The FCC report says that personal data was very much collected by Google and that Google was fully aware of it.

ICO’s statement

“We will study the Federal Communication Commission’s report and consider what further action, if any, needs to be taken,” said the statement.

“Google provided us with a formal undertaking in November 2010 about their future conduct, following their failure in relation to the collection of Wi-Fi data by their Street View cars. This included a provision for the ICO to audit Google’s privacy practices. The audit was published in August 2011 and we will be following up on it in June to ensure our recommendations have been put in place.”

What does Google have to say about this?

Google spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker, informed that the company was willing to make the entire document available but withhold the names of individuals.

“While we disagree with some of the statements made in the document, we agree with the FCC’s conclusion that we did not break the law,”Hazelbaker said.

“We hope that we can now put this matter behind us.”

FCC’s investigation

The engineer, Milner, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to testify.

What personal data did Google collect?

Google’s Street View cars collected names, addresses, telephone numbers, URLs, passwords, e-mail, text messages, medical records, video and audio files, and other information from Internet users in the US.

Public reactions to the scandal

Some people think that the engineer who collected this data, should be sent to jail as this was a grave error. A few think FCC should be fined big time as it failed to report this in time to the ICO. The agency should have immediately reported this issue to the public, the media and the Congress.

Adding to the public’s confusion

The above is a raging debate. Some feel a mountain has been made out of a molehill as Google has always been ‘snooping’ on people’s data. It does it with Gmail, so what’s the big deal now?

Alertsec understands privacy and protects it

Whatever the matter, privacy breach and collecting personal data without informing the individual, amounts to breaking the law. Let us try to protect our personal data. Alertsec protects data via data encryption. It also encrypts business laptops. Why wait?

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