FTC Wants Google to Retain Collected Wi-Fi Data

Lora Bentley
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Six Privacy Principles Google Forgot


After receiving letters from privacy advocates about Google's collection of "fragmentary" data from unsecured wireless networks, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has asked Google not to destroy that data.


According to the Los Angeles Times, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz told Congress last week the agency would take "a very, very close look" at the situation.


Google has admitted inadvertently collecting 600 gigabytes of data as it was collecting images for its Street View program in 33 different countries and Hong Kong. The data collected from three European countries was destroyed at the request of regulators. Other countries in Europe as well as the United States and Hong Kong have asked Google to retain the data.


The company has not described the data beyond calling it "fragmentary," and says that no one has even looked at it. Company representatives say Google is "working with the relevant authorities" to resolve the issue.


However, Google missed deadlines in Germany and Hong Kong to turn over to authorities data collected in their respective jurisdictions. Prosecutors in Hamburg, Germany, are looking into the matter, and Hong Kong's privacy commissioner has threatened "more assertive action" against the company.


The more Google stalls on this, the more everyone has to wonder what the company is hiding - especially if the collection really was inadvertent.

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