UK: Google could face a police investigation in the UK and Europe after documents released in the US show that it intended to collect internet data as it compiled photos for its Street View service around the world.
The search giant had previously claimed it mistakenly collected the data between May 2007 and 2010, including website details, user names and passwords, but did not intend to use it.
However, the text of an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – which fined Google $25,000 (£15,400) for impeding the inquiry by failing to respond to requests for documents and information – shows the engineer who designed the software specifically intended to collect and analyse the data, with a view to including it in future Google products.
He even carried out a test in which he tried to discover people’s favourite websites from the data.
The change of emphasis from an accidental to intentional collection means Google’s actions could fall under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which outlaws unauthorized electronic eavesdropping. That could require an investigation by the Home Office or Scotland Yard.
Simon Davies, director-general of Privacy International, is calling on Scotland Yard to reopen the investigation into the matter. “It was previously considered by a chief inspector,” he said. The high-profile interest in coverage phone hacking in the two years since the initial investigation would mean that evidence of intentional collection of data would be impossible to shrug off, he said.
The UK Information Commisioner’s Office (ICO), which oversees data protection issues, said on Monday it would examine the FCC findings and decide whether to reopen its investigation. When Google revealed that in May 2010 that it had been retaining the data – something it had previously denied – the ICO told it simply to delete the data, and that there were no grounds to take action.
Source: The Guardian