Google finalises cleanup after UK data harvest

Google was in hot water earlier in the year when it emerged that the search giant’s Street View vehicles had been essentially stealing data from Wi-Fi networks up and down the UK.

Now the firm has announced that it has permanently deleted all of this illicitly harvested data from its systems, in an attempt to restore confidence and good faith in its operations worldwide.

Google not only deleted the Wi-Fi data itself but called in an independent third party to verify that no trace of it was left.

Many have criticised Google for its approach to privacy throughout the year and the collection of data from millions of Wi-Fi networks in the UK and around the globe left it in a position that was difficult to defend.

Google will now hope that it can move on from this scandalous data harvesting debacle, although it has long claimed that the data was only gathered as a result of a rogue programming bug, rather than a deliberate attempt to take data without permission.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been in talks with Google ever since the data harvesting scandal was exposed and the search giant began the process to delete the data back in November, although it has only just completed this effort to satisfactory levels.

Street View, the Google service which allows anyone with a net connection to browse ground-level imagery of streets around the world, has itself been the target of privacy protesters.

The ICO in the UK is just one of the bodies that has investigated Google over the data harvesting, with the European Union and bodies in the US also taking a close look at the firm’s operations, to make sure that the privacy of the general public and private businesses is no longer being compromised.

Street View is not the only Google service to come under fire over lax privacy allegations, as its Buzz social networking service has been hit with similar claims and the firm will need to work hard to restore its benevolent image in 2011.

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