German prosecutors probing Google's mapping breach

May 19, 2010 By MELISSA EDDY , Associated Press Writer
In this Sept. 25, 2007 file picture a visitor passes an exhibition stand of Google company in Duesseldorf, western Germany. German prosecutors have launched an investigation of Google Inc. in connection with a privacy breach that involved it recording fragments of people's online activities through unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Hamburg prosecutor Wilhelm Moellers told the news agency DAPD on Wednesday May 19, 2010 that his office launched the investigation after a complaint was filed with their office against unknown Google employees. (AP Photo/Rene Tillmann, file)

(AP) -- German prosecutors are investigating Google Inc. on suspicion it violated privacy laws when it recorded fragments of people's online activities through unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Google acknowledged the privacy breach in an apology issued last Friday, saying it had been inadvertently storing fragments of people's online activities over the past four years. Google captured the information as its vehicles roamed streets gathering images and data for its mapping feature, "Street View."

Hamburg prosecutor Wilhelm Moellers told the news agency DAPD that his office launched an investigation after a complaint was filed against undisclosed Google employees. "We will above all have to clarify whether the offense was deliberate," Moellers said.

Google's disclosure aggravated suspicions about the company that that have been building across Europe, where strict privacy laws regulate how many personal details may be released or shared without the subject's consent.

In London, Britain's Information Commissioner's Office joined Germany in calling for Google to destroy the data, although it said it was unlikely that anything more than fragments of data had been collected. The Czech Office for Personal Data Protection also said it is investigating Google for failing to meet necessary requirements needed to collect data used for Street View.

The incident has also raised concerns among at least two U.S. lawmakers who are leading voices on technology and telecommunications issues in Congress but generally don't see eye to eye with each other on much.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday asking whether the agency is investigating the matter and whether Google's actions are illegal under U.S. law. Barton is the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, while Markey is a key Democrat on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Explore further: Facebook teams with NFL to score with online video

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Germany lashes out at Google for privacy breach

May 15, 2010

(AP) -- Germany's consumer protection minister strongly criticized Google for a widespread privacy breach and insisted Saturday the U.S. Internet giant must cooperate better with data protection authorities.

Google grabs personal info off of Wi-Fi networks

May 15, 2010

(AP) -- Google Inc. has been vacuuming up fragments of people's online activities broadcast over public Wi-Fi networks for the past four years, a breach of Web etiquette likely to raise more privacy worries ...

Google pledges more blurring in Switzerland

Sep 02, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. said Wednesday its Street View service will blur some pictures from Switzerland even more after a Swiss official said the images were violating the country's strict privacy laws.

Google, Germany bury hatchet over 'Street View'

Apr 30, 2010

Germany said Friday that Google had agreed to address thorny privacy concerns before launching its Street View navigation service in the country, ending a row between the firm and Berlin.

Germany to Google: Erase raw street-level images

May 20, 2009

(AP) -- A data protection official for Germany said Wednesday that Google had yet to meet a key request that photos gathered for its panoramic mapping service be erased after they are sent to the United States ...

Recommended for you

Web outage hardly stirs Internet-free N. Korea: experts

18 hours ago

North Korea's Internet went down this week after an apparent attack but most of its citizens will not have noticed the difference in a country that does its level best to seal off foreign influence, experts say.

Who pulled the plug on North Korea's Internet?

Dec 23, 2014

North Korea's Internet was on the fritz for a second day Tuesday. But the US is staying silent on whether it launched a cyber attack as payback for the hacking of Sony Pictures.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.