IDG News Service - German prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation over whether Google broke data protection regulations when it collected fragments of Wi-Fi data while shooting imagery for its mapping application.
The probe, conducted by the Hamburg Prosecutor's Office, follows Google's admission that it mistakenly collected the content of communications from non-password protected Wi-Fi networks using its Street View vehicles, which photograph streets for the Google Maps service.
The Hamburg prosecutor's office is at an early stage in the case, spokesman Wilhelm Möllers said today.
Möllers said his office will investigate how Google was collecting the data, but that it may be at least two weeks before a decision is made whether to file charges.
Google said it collected Wi-Fi network data, such as SSID (Service Set Identifier) information and MAC (Media Access Control) addresses. The company said it only collected fragments of personal Web traffic as its Wi-Fi equipment automatically changed channels five times a second. Wi-Fi networks can carry several megabytes of data per second.
The criminal probe marks an additional problem for Google in Germany, which has been under ongoing scrutiny from Hamburg's Data Protection Agency.
The Data Protection Agency has the power to assess penalties against Google, and has asked the company to turn over by next Wednesday a hard drive from one the vehicles collecting the data, according to an official from the agency.
"We have several problems with Street View and more problems with WLAN" scanning, she said.
Although Google has collected Street View data for Germany, the service has not been launched there. Google has not yet fully responded to a set of 13 points compiled by the Data Protection Agency that it says are necessary to comply with German laws, she said.
One of those points is agreeing to delete images of peoples' homes from Street View before those images go live, she said. In other locales, Google will remove an image on request, but only after publication.
Germany's privacy laws generally restrict photographs of people and property without a person's consent, except in very public situations, such as a sporting event.
The Data Protection Agency also requested that Google more thoroughly blur peoples' faces and that those partially censored images be permanently deleted from its databases.
Italy's data protection authority and the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) are also reviewing Google's Wi-Fi scanning. The U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office said Google appeared to have breached data protection requirements, but that it would not pursue the company after Google agreed to delete the data.
- The 20 Best iPhone/iPad Games of 2013 So Far
- 9 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand (and Your Career)
- 7 Consumer Technologies Coming to an Enterprise Near You
- 11 Signs Your IT Project is Doomed
- A walking tour: 33 questions to ask about your company's security
- 15 social media scams
- The 7 elements of a successful security awareness program
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Federal IT Innovation Caught in a Catch-22
- Fed resources shoring up old infrastructure, holding back new technologies.
- Harness IT -- An Introduction to Business Intelligence Solutions
- Learn the key selection criteria required to provide your organization with the capability to address structured data, unstructured data and mobile demands so...
- Business Intelligence Shows its Smarts
- Today's Business Intelligence (BI) tools provide a new way to think about data with self-service capabilities and user-friendly analytics that can be used...
- Proactive Planning for Big Data
- Big data is less about the terabytes and more about the query tools and business intelligence needed to make sense of massive amounts...
- Inquiry Spotlight: Consumer-Facing Identity
- The challenges of consumer-facing identity management, access management, and authentication differ in ways subtle and dramatic from those of the employee-facing variety. All Government IT White Papers
- Becoming An Analytics Driven Organization
- Join us on Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT and learn how your agency can create an analytics culture that will enable...
- 3 Reasons Why Sepaton is the World's Fastest Backup Solution
- Leading analyst, Storage Switzerland learns how Sepaton backs up and deduplicates massive data volumes while maintaining the industry's fastest performance - all in...
- Enterprise File Sharing: All You Need to Know
- Security. Scalability. Control. These are just some of the many benefits of enterprise cloud file-sharing that you'll discover in this KnowledgeVault, packed with...
- Bridging HTTP and FTP with FileXpress Internet Server
- What if you could take an FTP server on your internal network, and allow external users (partners or customers) to securely access it...
- MFT and FileXpress - An Overview
- Business users and applications exchange files on a regular basis. File transfer is a core part of the flow of business activity. All Government IT Webcasts