Google's Wi-Fi Data Collection Violated Canadian Privacy Law

Lora Bentley
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Six Online Privacy Reminders for Google

Six privacy principles Google seems to have forgotten.

Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart announced Tuesday that her investigation into the "inadvertent" wi-fi data collection associated with Google's Street View service found the company did violate privacy laws.


CNW reports the privacy commissioner launched the inquiry under Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act after Google admitted that its Street View software contained code that collected users' personal information from unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Google maintained at the time that it was completely unaware the software contained the code.


The privacy commissioner's team determined the person who created the code indicated it could potentially cause privacy issues, but because he did not send the code to Google's lawyers for review, the potential issues were never evaluated. The whole situation resulted from "a careless error that could easily have been avoided," Stoddart said.


As a result of the violation, Google will have to demonstrate to the commissioner that it has implemented a governance model with controls to ensure privacy requirements are met before products are released, that it has enhanced privacy training for its employees, that it has appointed an employee responsible for overseeing its privacy compliance, and that the payload data collected is deleted or secured to limit access as required by law.


Google has until Feb. 1, 2011, to fulfill its obligations.

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