Google has been accused of misleading Britain's privacy watchdog over the scandal of personal data stolen from millions of home computers.
The Information Commissioner last night dramatically reopened its inquiry into how the internet giant's
Street View cars harvested vast swathes of personal information from unsecured wi-fi networks.
During its first investigation, Google told investigators that the downloading of data was a simple mistake . It escaped with no punishment.
Taking more than pictures: A Google street-mapping car in Bristol
But an investigation by US regulators revealed a company software engineer explicitly designed the programme to collect the data and warned his bosses repeatedly about privacy
The data collected includes user names, passwords, telephone numbers, records of internet chats, medical information and even data from dating sites.
In a letter, the Information Commissioner's Office said yesterday that it
seems likely such information was deliberately captured during the Google Street View operations conducted in the UK.
It demanded a prompt reply to seven detailed questions about what went on. The scandal has raised uncomfortable
questions for the Government over its close links with the search engine firm.
Tory MP Robert Halfon welcomed the fresh investigation but said the ICO had been asleep on the watch . They should have investigated this a year ago, he
added. They clearly need to find out what Google knew and when they knew it.
Update: Searching for Answers
7th August 2012. Based on
article from minivannews.com
This afternoon the ICO has confirmed that Google has not deleted all the data it collected without people's consent during its Street View project. Google committed to delete the data in December 2010.
However, this gives an opportunity to explore
just how sensitive the information was.
Given that Google failed to respect people's privacy in the first place and subsequently failed to adhere to its agreement with the Information Commissioner, serious questions need to be asked to understand
why Google seemingly sees itself as above the law.
The Information Commissioner is hampered by a woeful lack of powers and is forced to trust organisations to tell the truth. Given Google's behaviour has called into question if that really is a
proper way to protect our personal data, it must be right to now demand a proper regulator with the powers and punishments to fully protect British people's privacy.