The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has reopened an investigation into Google’s Street View service. The initial investigation was looking into the alleged unlawful collection of personal information through wireless Internet networks when Google sent its Street View cards to take pictures for the service. The initial investigation did not result in a fine for Google after the ICO concluded that the data collection was not necessarily intentional or reckless (which are required in order for the ICO to issue a fine under the Data Protection Act 1998), with Google agreeing to a series of undertakings for the improvement and audit of its privacy structure.
However, a report by a US regulator has prompted the ICO to reopen the investigation. The report, by the US Federal Communications Commission, stated that an engineer working for Google had intentionally written software that allowed the cars to collect data from encrypted wireless Internet networks, with the aim of that data being used in other Google projects. That software was approved higher up the chain in Google, all of which suggests that the data collection was, in fact, deliberate.
The ICO has written to Google Inc. in the US (the parent company of Google UK) asking for the provision of more information about the data collection, including what data was collected and what plans it has to prevent further data breaches in future.