Google cleared of wifi snooping charges in the UK

According to the UK's Information Commissioner Office (ICO), Google did not collect any personal details when collecting data from wifi networks for their location based services. Google was cleared of the charges after the ICO reviewed some of the data that was captured from unsecured networks and found nothing significant was collected. Google said any data that was captured was mistakenly gathered while they were collecting hot spot information for their location based services.

Google was using their Street View cars to collect the wifi information to help enhance their location based services. While the Street View cars were in Germany the Data Protection Authorities, located in Hamburg, Germany, requested more information from Google about their Street View operation. This revealed that Google had been grabbing data from unsecured hotspots for years as its Street View cars drove around. This led to other countries investigating the data that Google had captured.

The ICO said in a statement, "On the basis of the samples we saw, we are satisfied so far that it is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data. There is also no evidence - as yet - that the data captured by Google has caused or could cause any individual detriment." Which contradicts a statement given by the French Data Protection Authorities that said it had seen sensitive information, such as passwords, in the data during its preliminary investigation, according to the BBC.

In response to the news that they were cleared of any wrong doing in the UK Google said, "We welcome the news that the data protection authorities in the UK have found that the payload data contained no meaningful personal information. As we said when we announced our mistake, we did not want and have never used any payload data in our products or services." Since the investigation began Google has stopped collecting wifi network information from their Street View cars.

Google is still under investigation in France, Spain, Germany, Australia and in the UK by the Metropolitan Police. In the US Google has a class action lawsuit for its data collection practices along with large scale investigations by 38 states.

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