Google cleared of Wi-Fi snooping in the UK

29 Jul 2010

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has cleared internet giant Google of wrongdoing after reviewing some of the data that Google gathered from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Countries like the UK, Germany, France and Spain have asked Google to hand over Wi-Fi data that was intercepted by Google’s Street View teams.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner merely told the search giant to destroy the data.

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

The problem relates to software that Google’s StreetView units were using while taking pictures for the Google Maps service, which unknown to senior Google executives was gathering data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it was satisfied from that data that it saw that Google didn’t capture “significant amounts of personal data.”

It added: “There is also no evidence – as yet – that the data captured by Google has caused or could cause any individual detriment.”

However, the ordeal is far from over for Google. The French authorities have said they have seen evidence of sensitive information, such as passwords, among the data gathered by the Street View teams.

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