Bloomberg News

Google Asked for Street View Data by French Privacy Agency

July 31, 2012

Google Inc. (GOOG:US) was asked to provide France’s data-protection authority with information gathered through its Street View service, which it should have deleted after a 2011 fine.

The request came four days after the British privacy watchdog announced a similar request. Google, owner of the world’s biggest search engine, informed European privacy agencies on July 27 that it still had some of the data, the French authority, known as CNIL, said on its website.

The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office said that day it would coordinate a response to Google’s failure to delete the information. CNIL, like the ICO, asked the Mountain View, California-based company to retain the data while it conducted the review.

Google still has “a small portion of payload data collected” by its Street View cars in the U.K., Peter Fleischer, the company’s global privacy counsel, said in its July 27 letter to the ICO, seeking permission to delete the remaining information. In addition to photographing and mapping, Google’s Street View cars collected data from unrestricted wireless connections to gather people’s personal communications.

“Google apologizes for this error,” the company said today in an e-mailed statement, reiterating it “would now like to delete the remaining data.”

The U.K. data authority re-opened its probe into the Street View breach in June after finding the company’s statements during a 2010 inquiry could have been contradicted by American investigators’ findings.

Google was fined $25,000 by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission earlier this year for impeding its investigation into improper data gathering. In an agreement ending the U.K. inquiry into Street View in November 2010, Google agreed to further ICO audits of its privacy practices.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at hsmith26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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