Despite having repeatedly reassured commissioning bodies and the general public to the contrary, Google has admitted it is still in position of a chunk of data questionably gathered by its Google Streetview vehicles.
The information, which was collected over open Wi-Fi networks, has been the subject of repeated ICO investigations with the Information Commissioner demanding it is given the opportunity to “immediately” examine the data Google has said was not deleted due to an ‘error’.
“Google has recently confirmed that it still has in its possession a small portion of payload data collected by our Street View vehicles in the UK,” Peter Fleisher, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel, said in a letter addressed to Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO. “Google apologizes for this error.”
With data collected from UK residents as well as throughout sections of France, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Australia, an official ICO spokesperson has said “The ICO has always been clear that this should never have happened in the first place and the company’s failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern.”
The ICO response added: “Earlier today Google contacted the ICO to confirm that it still had in its possession some of the payload data collected by its Street View vehicles prior to May 2010. This data was supposed to have been deleted in December 2010. The fact that some of this information still exists appears to breach the undertaking to the ICO signed by Google in November 2010.
“In their letter to the ICO today, Google indicated that they wanted to delete the remaining data and asked for the ICO’s instructions on how to proceed. Our response, which has already been issued, makes clear that Google must supply the data to the ICO immediately, so that we can subject it to forensic analysis before deciding on the necessary course of action.”