Tag Archives: Street View

South Korea Fine Google after Illegal Data Gathering

South Korean regulators have fined Google for illegally gathering personal data whilst taking pictures for its Street View service in 2009 and 2010.

The Korean Communications Commission (KCC) held a meeting a decided to impose a fine of 210million won ($196.000). The KCC have also ordered Google to delete all data that was collected illegally and to keep everyone notified of progress through their website.

According to the KCC, the data that was illegally collected consisted of internet IDs, passwords, network addresses, text messages, and credit card numbers.

Google has already admitted that they obtained the personal data from home wireless networks when the Street View car drove past but claimed that they were merely trying to ascertain the location of Wi-Fi networks to build up a list of assisted location services for mobile users.

The KCC are keen to send out a message that anyone who is caught collecting data unlawfully in South Korea will be punished how they deem appropriate.

Lee Kyung-jae who is the chairman of the KCC stated, “The latest penalty is the first of its kind imposed on a global company that violated the private information protection laws. The commission will punish those who collect information of the Korean public without exception.”

South Korea isn’t the first nation to impose a fine on Google after they have gathered data illegally whilst taking pictures for its Street View service.

Previous cases against Google include the German privacy regulator imposing a €145,000 ($189,000) fine and the French data protection authority enforcing a €100,000 ($142,000) fine for the same reasons. Google was also fined $7 million by the U.S. authorities in March 2013.

In today’s world, it is now vital that all networks and computers are kept as secure as possible by ensuring everything has the latest security program updates applied and is protected by a strong password.

The ease that Google accumulated all this personal data should be of a huge concern especially as cyber hackers and cyber thieves are continuously developing more sophisticated methods of attacks.

It is also vital that a robust backup solution is utilised to ensure that data can be recovered if it is deleted or modified.

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.

ICO takes considered approach to Google data theft claims

The furore surrounding accusations levelled at Google, over the data harvesting allegedly carried out by its roving Street View vehicles will not be met with a rash, premature response from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), according to a spokesperson.

The issue of Google’s alleged breach of the Data Protection Act, which occurred when Street View vehicles harvested personal data including email addresses and passwords from Wi-Fi networks around the country, was brought up and debated in the House of Commons, with many MPs claiming that the search giant acted deliberately and with the intent to make gains from the illicitly collected information.

The ICO believes that to react to such accusations without taking the time to properly investigate every aspect of this case would be counter-productive.

According to an ICO spokesperson, it is the job of the regulatory body to take responsible, considered steps towards remedying this situation and ensuring that the protection and privacy of the data owned by private citizens is always at the heart of the matter.

The spokesperson said that there was a great deal of emotional rhetoric surrounding this debate over Google’s actions and it did not wish to be pushed to act without due care.

Although the investigation is not taking place with the speed called for by some politicians and activists, the ICO wants to take all the time it can to ensure that when it reaches a decision on this case, it is taking the right one and puts the interest of the public before all else.

Tory MP Robert Halfon, said that while the current information relating to the nature of the data harvested by Google was unclear, he believes any kind of clandestine data collection should be treated as an affront to privacy.

Mr Halfon is convinced that this is a black and white issue and is concerned that Google has been misleading in its attempts to defend itself in this case.

The ICO said that it hopes to clear up much of this muddy issue through further investigation and discussion with politicians.

Google’s covert data theft re-examined by ICO

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to reinitiate its examination of the way in which Google’s Street View vehicles harvested private data, including email addresses and passwords, while touring the UK in order to establish whether or not legal action against the search giant is necessary.

Two months ago the ICO deemed Google to have been innocent of serious if unintentional data theft because it conluded the collection of information from Wi-Fi networks across the nation and elsewhere around the world, only resulted in the firm gathering fragmented and consequently harmless details.

The ICO has been forced to review the investigation now various international authorities have discovered that, in some cases, Google was actually collecting much more data than originally thought.

Google’s Alan Eustace published a blog post in which he said that some of the data harvested by the roaming Street View cars included user’s email addresses, passwords and web histories. He also confirmed that Google was taking measures to erase any of this harvested data as quickly as possible.

Mr Eustace explained that Google was highly embarrassed by this damning look into its data harvesting habits and said that all employees would undergo new privacy training, under the control of a privacy director, to ensure that this type of incident is not repeated.

Google’s new privacy director is expert Alma Whitten and Mr Eustace said that she will be instrumental in building privacy measures into the core of Google’s products.

The ICO said that it will be contacting Google to request confirmation over whether or not the data of UK citizens, including passwords, was taken illicitly as a result of its activities. If it is found to have breached the terms of the Data Protection Act, then the ICO could be hit with a half million pound fine, making it the first business to suffer the full force of the ICO’s new powers.

Google is under investigation in various nations around the world to make sure that its privacy policies are not exposing data in a similar manner to its Street View service.

Google admits to Wi-Fi data harvesting

Search giant Google has caused considerable controversy with an admission that it has been collecting vast amounts of data from Wi-Fi networks around the UK via its roaming Street View cars.

A spokesperson for Google explained that the vehicles, which had ostensibly been sent out to capture street-level 360 degree images for the firm’s online mapping service, had also been capturing data transmitted to and from various Wi-Fi hotspots.

Google’s Alan Eustace said that Google routinely captured publicly broadcast information such as the names of Wi-Fi networks, which is not in itself a particularly unscrupulous act, even if it might be seen as such by some. However, Google has admitted that some rouge code created four years ago and then transferred onto the Street View cars has caused Wi-Fi data traffic to be collected and catalogued, apparently without Google’s knowledge.

Google’s intention had been to perform a Wi-Fi census at the same time as obtaining the Street View from the vehicles, acquiring MAC addresses and network names. However, Mr Eustace has been vocal in dismissing the idea that anyone involved in the project had intended to collect other personal data using the service, or that any of this potentially sensitive information would later be used by the search giant.

Since discovering the unintentional data harvest, Google has grounded the Street View vehicles, which are still in operation around the world, until it can confirm that the offending code has been completely eradicated from every one of its fleet.

Critics have been quick to brand this incident as further proof of the firm’s inadequate approach to the privacy of personal information. Consumer rights expert John M. Simpson said that the objectives and goals given to Google’s programmers were at odds with the public image presented by the firm, with clandestine data acquisition occurring until the public is made aware via an incident such as this, at which point an executive is wheeled out to contradict the damning evidence.

Google has sought the services of an independent investigative team to discover how such a startling error could have occurred, although this too has enraged critics, with many saying that Google should not have any hand in the selection of external investigators.

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