Google Agrees to Hand Over Data to EU Regulators

By Stephanie Berrong

Google has agreed to hand over data to European regulators, which the company says it accidentally collected from private WiFi internet connections, according to the Financial Times.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt told the news outlet that Google would initially give the information to data protection authorities in Germany, France, and Spain.
In recent weeks the company admitted it had accidentally collected information sent over unsecured wireless networks in homes it had photographed for its "Street View" service. To provide the Street View service, company cars drive down streets in cities and towns worldwide and photograph houses and buildings along the way.
(For more on Google data collection habits, see this review of Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You from the March 2010 issue of Security Management.)
The cars also collected data from wireless networks that were not secured in the homes in order “to pinpoint addresses for people using Google’s location services,” the Financial Times reported earlier this month. Google said it recently discovered that it also had been inadvertently collecting snippets of e-mails and other internet activity within those homes due to a programming error.
The Financial Times quoted Schmidt saying, “We screwed up. Let’s be very clear about that. If you are honest about your mistakes it is the best defence for it not happening again.”
Schmidt said the company would conduct an internal review into all its privacy practices, checking all of the codes related to collecting data and reveal the results within the next month.

♦ Photo of Google's Eric Schmidt by The Alieness GiselaGiardino²³/Flickr


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