Google has announced it still hasn't deleted intercepted Wi-Fi data from its UK Street View team, and the privacy snafu has taken another turn like so many camera cars driving around local streets.
Now a two-year old, ongoing public distraction for the search giant, the revelation the company still has not deleted or released all the data it collected has drawn another rebuke form EU regulators.
Private Matters Brought Forward
Perhaps many of us Web surfing veterans (or noobs) don't know much about what it really takes to ensure at least a semblance of online privacy. But, Google's admission that it still has the supposedly mistakenly snooped data does come as a bit of a surprise. That's because Google agreed in 2010 to delete the information, and with the privacy breach being investigated again, the new admission appears damaging for Google.
The Information Commissioner's Office, the UK's independent authority on data privacy, received a letter from Google, July 27. It said the company had discovered more data from the Street View team, wished to delete it and wanted to know how to proceed. Given that Google agreed to delete the data, the fact it still had not is a cause for concern, the ICO said in a statement.
EU Data Privacy Rules Still Being Written
Europe already has more strict privacy rules in place than in the U.S. New rules are being worked out, however, and the EU's Article 29 policy on data protection will likely use Google's Wi-Fi snooping as further ammo for stricter privacy rules. Furthermore, if the U.S. ever gets around to enacting new laws around data privacy, this story will no doubt be part of the discussion.
As to why Google didn't simply delete the data it collected when found, well that's just part of the whole mystery. Claims that Google was deliberately spying on people will surely be repeated, likely until Google proves they have actually gotten rid of the data. Google says it has never accessed the data it collected, but the company is now working closely with the ICO to make sure it doesn't incur any actual sanctions in the future.
Google has never been prosecuted for privacy invasion in the UK, but new stricter laws may be looming as a result of the breach. Tell us in the comments if you use open Wi-Fi networks and what you do to protect (or not) your privacy.