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Google admits Street View cars captured e-mails, passwords

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 29 Oct 2010 17:22 User comments (4)

Google admits Street View cars captured e-mails, passwords Google has admitted for the first time that its Street View cars accidentally captured more sensitive information from wireless networks around the world than it previously thought.
The disclosure by the web giant comes just days after the Canadian privacy watchdog accused the company of collecting complete e-mails and passwords from wireless networks in the country while its Street View cars were out capturing the area.

It remains unclear just how many users worldwide have been affected by the security breach, and different states have decided to deal with the situation in different ways. Where it has been allowed to do so, Google has already destroyed the data that it captured, while bodies in other states are still analyzing the data and carrying out investigations.

Regulators in France, Germany, Spain and other countries have ongoing investigations into the matter. "If in fact laws were broken...then there's some serious question of culpability and Google may need to face significant fines," said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

In the United States, a collection of more than 30 attorneys general have launched a joint probe into the matter, lead by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. He said that Google's disclosure about the data it collected "validates and heightens our significant concerns."

According to a Google spokesperson, the company has not examined the 600GB of data itself to avoid violating privacy, relying on regulators in several countries who have analyzed the data to make the recent disclosure. The company hopes to destroy the data as soon as possible while it will continue to cooperate with investigations in several countries.

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4 user comments

129.10.2010 17:32

I don't think its a big deal, it was an accident street view is awesome, good for google for owning up to the mistake I am sure nothing bad was done with the information that was accidentally collected



229.10.2010 18:19

This is really pretty bad, they were doing something that shouldn't have been attempted in the first place. The laws about hacking and related issues are pretty strict as they should be. Anyone remember the kid that hacked into a company, and then approached the company of the hack he did to get into the company. He did it more to get a job and absolutely did nothing malicious nor attempt to look at any private sensitive information in the company he hacked into. Last report was he got a prison sentence for 10 years before able for parole.

The big problem is a difference made between private individuals and corporations, a corporation should be held to the same level of integrity as other individuals are.

It is annoying, or should i say scary to see stuntman_ to say it is not a big thing...

Main thing no company should even attempt to capture the information they did and store it. If any of us did this we would be looking at prison time.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 29 Oct 2010 @ 18:21

329.10.2010 20:26

stuntman_ is right. The system was set up to collect any freely available wireless data as it passed through those areas. There was no hacking involved or purposeful intent to collect personally sensitive data. It's just a good example of how bad wireless is security-wise.

429.10.2010 20:45

Yeah, this is getting blown way out of proportion. Let's not forget - Google was gathering information from unencrypted wifi networks. This was the digital equivalent of people 'shouting' data for anyone in a 100-meter radius to hear. If Google was the only party who happened to be listening when sensitive data was transmitted over an unencrypted connection, I think the people doing the transmitting should consider themselves lucky and move on.


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