Google Resists Regulator Requests for Street View Data

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Six Privacy Principles Google Forgot


The Google Street View saga continues. The company told privacy officials in Hamburg, Germany, that it could not turn over data it had inadvertently collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks while preparing to implement its Street View service in the area because doing so would violate German law.


The New York Times reports that Johannes Caspar, Hamburg's data-protection supervisor, has been assured by prosecutors that Google would not be committing a criminal act if it complied with the request. The story quotes Google's Peter Barron this way:

As granting access to payload data creates legal challenges in Germany which we need to review, we are continuing to discuss the appropriate legal and logistical process for making the data available.

At the same time, privacy officials in Hong Kong are also perturbed at Google for failing to turn over information collected in the same manner there. Privacy commissioner Roderick B. Woo said:

I do not see that Google is taking the matter seriously enough. Unless some remedial measures are taken by Google promptly, I shall have to consider escalating the situation and resort to more assertive action.

The deadline previously set by Woo, which Google apparently ignored, came and went on Monday.


Consumer advocates in the United States have asked the Federal Trade Commission <strong>to look into Google's activities</strong>. Now lawmakers are going directly to Google. According to Reuters, Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.; Joe Barton, R-Calif., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., have written a letter asking if Google told anyone it was collecting data in its Street View efforts, how much data was collected and how the company plans to use it.


Google has indicated no one has looked at the data that was collected in several different countries and continues to maintain the collection was a mistake and not intentional.