Google contravened Canadian privacy law
greg1usa | October 20, 2010 at 11:58 pmby
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Google Inc. contravened Canadian privacy law when it inappropriately collected personal information from unsecured wireless networks in neighborhoods across the country, an investigation has found.
"Google Street View cars inappropriately collected personal information such as e-mails, user-names, passwords, phone numbers and addresses; Commissioner recommends stronger controls and improved privacy training."
Office of the Privacy Commissioner
The Privacy Commissioner’s investigation also concluded that the incident was the result of an engineer’s careless error as well as a lack of controls to ensure that necessary procedures to protect privacy were followed. It is likely that thousands of Canadians were affected by the incident.
The personal information collected included complete e-mails, e-mail addresses, user-names and passwords, names and residential telephone numbers and addresses. Some of the captured information was very sensitive, such as a list that provided the names of people suffering from certain medical conditions, along with their telephone numbers and addresses.
“Our investigation shows that Google did capture personal information – and, in some cases, highly sensitive personal information such as complete e-mails. This incident was a serious violation of Canadians’ privacy rights,” says Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.
Google asserts that it was completely unaware of the presence of the payload data collection code when it began using the software for its location-based services. While the code was reviewed before being installed on Street View cars, the review was only to ensure that the code did not interfere with the Street View operations.
The Privacy Commissioner will consider the matter resolved upon receiving, by February 1, 2011, confirmation from Google that it has implemented her recommendations.
The news comes just as Google Street View is about to launch in 20 cities in Germany amid controversy and concerns over privacy.
"We are about to launch Street View images in 20 large German cities," Andreas Tuerk, Street View product manager in Germany said in a blog post on Thursday.
According to statistics there are 8,458,084 households in the 20 cities that are to be covered by Street View, Google said it had received 244,237 requests to not be included in the coverage, thats 2.89 percent of the households involved.
Since April 2009 every tenant and house owner has had the option to request in writing that their building would not be recognizable on Google Street View.
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