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Police drop probe into Google Street View fiasco

Street View

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 29 Oct 2010 at 12:40

Google will not face a criminal investigation into the Street View data collection fiasco, after the Metropolitan Police decided to drop the case.

The data breach was brought to the attention of the police after campaign group Privacy International alleged that collection of Wi-Fi network data while Google was capturing Street View images represented a criminal interception.

However, police said that having looked at the details the force would not be launching a formal investigation.

“We have considered the allegation into the data breach and we have been liaising with the Information Commissioner's Office,” a Met spokesperson told PC Pro.

“We have decided that it would not be appropriate to launch a criminal investigation into the issue and that's the end of the matter as far as we're concerned.”

The ball is now firmly back in the court of the ICO, which earlier this week effectively admitted it had not fully investigated the data breach when it first came to light back in April and said it was considering re-opening its investigation.

The change of stance came after Google admitted its data collection cars had collected more information than the company originally let on.

The ICO is able to fine organisations up to £500,000, but has yet to dish out any such punishment, and has been criticised for failing to act over privacy breaches. [a href="http://www.itpro.co.uk/628168/ico-can-t-fine-google-for-wi-fi-scandal" target="_blank"]" title="IT PRO" target="_blank"]Reports suggest the ICO won't be able to fine Google[/a], because the incident happened before it was given such powers.

The watchdog came under fire earlier this week over the issue, when Conservative MP Rob Halfon accused it of not treating privacy breaches by web giants seriously enough.

“As a country we don’t take individual rights seriously enough and the Information Commissioner’s response has been woeful," Halfon told PC Pro. “The Canadian and South Korean governments have dealt with the Google breach much more thoroughly."

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User comments

Trial by ignorance

Most people don't even understand what Google did. Remember that people got upset just by seeing their house on street view!

By Stiggy on 29 Oct 2010

Conservative MP Rob Halfon needs to have a word with his boss if he is concerned about public privacy. Although there are cutbacks in most areas, £2 billion has been promised to a project to log the e-mail, internet, phone and text messages of everyone in the UK. Despite The Conservatives and the Lib Dems both promising to “reverse the rise of the surveillance state”. George Orwell's 1984 was intended as a warning, not a blueprint.

By thirdbrother3 on 30 Oct 2010

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