Tags: EU | France | Google

France Claims Success in Google Privacy Breach

Thursday, 17 Jun 2010 09:23 AM

France has become the latest country to hold Google to account over a privacy breach that saw the search engine giant mistakenly gather and store data over public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries.

The French independent privacy watchdog CNIL said Thursday that following its complaint, Google had handed over copies of the e-mails, browsing history, banking details and other fragments of data sucked up by Google technicians cruising French streets photographing neighborhoods for the website's "Street View" mapping feature.

A spokesman for the Mountain View, California-based company said Google has been handing over data to authorities in the affected countries for the past two weeks.

CNIL said it is still examining the data that it received from Google on June 4. The organization may yet seek financial or criminal penalties over the privacy breach, the organization's head Yann Padova said at a news conference.

Padova said it remains unknown how many individuals and how many cities had their private data collected by Google.

Last month, Google acknowledged it had mistakenly collected data over public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries.

Google says it has stopped grabbing Wi-Fi data from its Street View vehicles since it discovered the data collection problem last month following an inquiry by German regulators.

Police in Germany and Australia already have launched their own investigations into the matter.

German authorities have not received all data they were hoping for from Google, said Arne Gerhards, spokesman of the Hamburg Data Securities Authority which is in charge of the Street View case in Germany.

While the authority was able to test one of the Street View vehicles it has not had access to a specific harddrive it needs to look at, Gerhards said. The authority hopes to get access to it within the next two weeks.

German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner is planning another meeting with Google management in order to clear up the matter, Aigner's spokesman Holger Eichele told the AP.

"We have a lot of questions and we are expecting answers," he said.

Aigner had criticized Google last month for dragging its feet in revealing all the details of its Street View data scan.


Associated Press writers Greg Keller and Verena Schmitt-Roschmann in Berlin contributed to this article.

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