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The saga of the wi-fi data collected by Google’s Street View cars looks finally to be drawing to a close in the UK.
In June, the UK’s data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) wrote to Google after it found that wi-fi payload data collected by Google’s Street View cars while they were collecting imagery in 2009 had not been deleted.
The letter gave the company 35 days to delete the data or face contempt of court.
Google informed the ICO last year it still had some of the payload data in its possession, despite having informed the ICO that it had been deleted in December 2010. In July 2012, Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer sent an email to the ICO saying that the company had however found “a small portion of payload data” during a manual Street View disk inventory.
Last February, Google found four discs with payload information on that it had failed to destroy, and reported the find to the ICO in July and September. In October, Google found a fifth disc thought to contain UK data.
That information now looks finally have been deleted.
“We can confirm that Google has deleted the last of the payload data collected by their Street View cars in the UK, and that this process has been verified by an independent consulting firm in Stroz Friedberg. This is in accordance with the requirements of the enforcement notice issued by the ICO last month,” an ICO spokesman told press.
Stroz Friedberg was also the company in charge of the 2010 deletion.
The gathering of payload data in the UK came to light in early 2010, with Google subsequently writing to privacy commissioners across Europe to let them know that Google Street View cars had gathered MAC addresses, SSIDs, passwords and email data from unsecured wi-fi hotspots while out mapping neighbourhoods on the continent.
The company was subsequently investigated by various data authorities in Europe, including France’s CNIL and Germany‘s federal data protection commissioner, as well as the FCC in the US and Canada’s privacy commissioner.
In Australia, Google was asked to delete payload data in 2012 but, as in the UK, subsequently found that some data had survived.
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Source: Associated Press.