Eric Schmidt: Google to hand over intercepted data

4 Jun 2010

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has confirmed that within the next two days Google will begin providing European regulators with the rogue data it intercepted from private Wi-Fi internet connections.

According to a report in this morning’s Financial Times, Schmidt said he would hand the information over initially to the German, French and Spanish data-protection authorities.

Germany is considering a investigation into the practice of cars photographing streets for Google’s Street View service but at the same time collecting snippets of personal information from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

“We screwed up. Let’s be clear about that,” Schmidt said in the report. “If you are honest about your mistakes it is the best defence for it not happening again.”

Schmidt admitted he could not rule out the possibility that personal data, like bank account details, was among the data collected.

Schmidt was adamant that the company culture that allows engineers to create new products and services would not change. The 20pc time during which employees are allowed to pursue their own projects will remain in place, he said.

“It would be a terrible thing to put a chilling effect on creativity,” Schmidt told the Financial Times.

Rogue code

According to the New York Times, Schmidt said the software code responsible for the data collection was in “clear violation” of Google’s rules.

The Federal Trade Commission has said it will take a close look at the practice, and several lawmakers have written letters to Google asking for more information about the practice.

Lawsuits against Google over Wi-Fi data collection have also been filed in at least US three states.

Photo: Google CEO Eric Schmidt

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years