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Google to scrub Street View Wi-Fi data in UK

updated 02:10 pm EST, Fri November 19, 2010

Google to purge UK Street View Wi-Fi info

UK deputy information commissioner David Smith today said that Google had agreed to delete Wi-Fi data collected by its Street View cars. The search firm would purge the data in the next nine months and would avoid threatened legal action since the data remained in Google's hands. There was no reason to fine the company, Smith told the BBC.

The remarks came in spite of a later admission that Google had obtained passwords and site addresses while its cars were accidentally running test code that scraped Wi-Fi data. David admitted that the UK investigation wasn't as thorough as in Canada or some other countries, but it would have taken "days and days" to reach the same conclusions, which the commission used as part of its basis.

Privacy has tightened at Google since the discoveries, as it now requires a privacy document for every project and more oversight across the company. Canada has nonetheless warned that it may take more serious action against Google, while investigations are still underway in South Korea and other countries.

Google had officially planned only to use Wi-Fi to map the locations of hotspots around the world, but the privacy fiasco has led it to drop wireless from its plans altogether.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Fonejacker

    Joined: Dec 1969


    9 months !!!!!

    how difficult is it to press "delete" on a keyboard, UK deputy information commissioner David Smith must be getting backhanders in brown paper bags if he agreed to let them take that long, 9 months!!!, the British civil servants are the slowest most useless people you could possibly wish for. A real man with big balls would have demanded they do that in 1 day.

  1. mullum

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    well said.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: 9 months

    How difficult? Well, it isn't just one file on one machine. They have to go all about tracking down the data from the street view vans, which might be stored in many places (for example, in the US and UK). If any of it went to any partners or external sources, they have to track down all of them and delete it from there.

    Then they've got to go scrubbing through the backup data from all locations that have or had that data and delete the data from the backups. And remember Google's one of those large companies, and internet centric, so they probably have all sorts of data retention and backup policies, which means there could be months and months of backups, each one needing to be cleaned.

    After that, they've got to go through their own search indexers and make sure none of this data was searched. This includes both their web search as well as internal search engines and uses of such things like Google Desktop search.

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