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ICO won't be panicked into response over Google Wi-Fi debacle

Organisation is currently deciding on necessary course of action

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has revealed won't be "panicked into a knee-jerk response" regarding the Google Street View debacle.

In May this year an audit of Wi-Fi data collected by the search engine's Street View Cars, which capture real-time photographs of cities across the world for use in Google Maps, by the German data protection authority revealed Google has been accidentially collecting snippets of data.

However, last week Google admitted that the inadvertent Wi-Fi snooping collected not only data fragments but entire email messages, website addresses and passwords.

"The ICO must take a calm and measured approach to the issue of data privacy and ensure that we do not get caught up in the emotive arguments which will only naturally take place around sensitive issues such as the inadvertent collection of data by Google Street View," the ICO said.

The ICO said it had become apparent that "a great deal of misunderstanding exists about what actions we have already taken and what we are doing in relation to Google Street View".

The organisation visited Google earlier in the year to "make a preliminary assessment of the 'pay-load' data it inadvertently collected".

"Whilst the information we saw at the time did not include meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person, we have continued to liaise with, and await the findings of, the investigations carried out by our international counterparts," the ICO said.

In light of the new findings the ICO said it has already made enquires to see whether they relate to the data inadvertently captured in the UK.

"We are now deciding on the necessary course of action, including a consideration of the need to use our enforcement powers," the ICO said.

"Whilst we continue to work with our other international counterparts on this issue we will not be panicked into a knee jerk response to an alarmist agenda."

The ICO also confirmed an investigation into the debacle by the Metropolitan Police, which followed a complaint from Privacy International over Google's activities, has also been closed.

See also: Google pushed to name names over Wi-Fi data collection


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