Google to hand over European Wi-Fi data to regulators

Google has relaxed its opposition to European regulators and will hand over the open wireless network data it collected from its Street View cars over the past three years. 

Google's chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, told The Financial Times the company would share the data collected with regulators in Germany, Spain, France and Italy. It is suspected the data contained personal information including e-mails and bank account numbers. 

Last week Google said in a statement that there was legal challenges they had to review, before handing over data to German regulators in Hamburg. "We are continuing to discuss the appropriate legal and logistical process for making the data available." These issues would appear to be resolved with Google's recent decision. 

Google's revelation last month outlined that 600 gigabytes of personal data was collected from the camera-mounted cars in its Street View program, taken from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. The code responsible for the collection of this data was in "clear violation" of Google's rules and an internal investigation is underway. 

Schmidt felt the company had to be transparent and the company would not change its culture allowing engineers to have the freedom to create new products and services from their own projects. "We screwed up. Let's be very clear about that. If you are honest about your mistakes it is the best defense for it not happening again."

The results of the internal and external investigations of Google's Wi-Fi data collection practices would be made public when available. 

The Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. said it will look at the company's data collection practices, but it has not pursued its investigation as aggressively as European regulators have. Despite this, lawsuits have been filed against Google in as many as three states over their Wi-Fi data collection practices. 

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