Friday, January 7, 2011

National Police Agency Says Google Illegally Collected Private Data

The National Police Agency's cybercrime unit yesterday said they found evidence that Google illegally collected private data while producing its street view mapping service in Korea.  As reported in the Joongang Daily, police last August confiscated 79 hard disks at Google's Seoul office in Yeoksam-dong. After decoding passwords on the disks, which took several months, “We discovered e-mails and online chats individuals exchanged through [unencrypted] Wi-Fi networks,” said a police official.  The police have been investigating 10 Google employees in Korea and the United States.  Similar investigations are taking place in the U.S., Canada, Spain, Australia and Germany.  According to The Guardian, investigations are underway in 20 countries around the world.  Google started collecting street images in Korea in October 2009 using SUVs equipped with nine cameras, similar to the one shown in the accompanying graphic from The Guardian.
Google said it was "profoundly sorry" for mistakenly collecting the so-called "payload" data and vowed to continue to cooperate with South Korean authorities. "As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities," Google's Korean arm said.

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