Google agrees to delete WiFi data collected in Hong Kong

Jul 30, 2010
The camera of a street-view car, used to photograph whole streets for Google maps. Google has agreed to delete all personal WiFi data gathered by its "Street View" mapping service in Hong Kong, in what the city's privacy commissioner said was a first.

Google has agreed to delete all personal WiFi data gathered by its "Street View" mapping service in Hong Kong, in what the city's privacy commissioner said was a first.

The Internet giant is being investigated in a number of countries after the cars, which drive around taking photos for Google's free online mapping service, mistakenly picked up the private information.

After carrying out a compliance check, Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner Roderick Woo said Friday he had requested that completely erase all WiFi data collected in the city and provide third-party verification it had done so.

Woo said his check showed the data collected by Google contained mostly fragmented email messages, Facebook "Wall" postings and the like but did not contain sensitive personal data, passwords or whole emails and could not directly identify any one individual.

The Mountain View, California-based company had given an undertaking to delete the information and that its Street View cars would not collect WiFi data when they returned to the streets of Hong Kong, he said.

"This incident has aroused global privacy concern and many overseas data protection authorities have looked into similar incidents in their own jurisdictions," Woo said in a statement on the commission's website (www.pcpd.org.hk/).

"To date, Hong Kong was the only privacy regulator which had successfully procured an undertaking and an affidavit from Google," he said.

Woo said he had decided not to carry out a formal investigation as the data could not be used to directly identify any one individual and Google had not intended to compile personal information through its Street View operation.

The Internet search and advertising titan grounded all Street View cars in May after disclosing that they had mistakenly gathered snippets of .

They returned to the road in July in several countries but only after all wireless scanning equipment had been removed.

According to Google, Street View cars taking photographs of cities in more than 30 countries inadvertently gathered fragments of personal information.

, which was launched in 2006, lets users view panoramic street scenes on Google Maps and take a virtual "walk" through cities such as New York, Paris or Hong Kong.

Explore further: Twitter takes note of other apps on smartphones

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US probes Google Street View data grabs (Update)

Jun 21, 2010

The attorney general of the US state of Connecticut is looking into whether Google broke the law by capturing people's personal data from wireless networks while Street View bicycles and cars mapped streets. ...

France joins probes into Google Street View

Jun 17, 2010

France became the latest country Thursday to probe Google for gathering personal data as its Street View bikes and cars photographed cities across the world for the controversial mapping service.

Canada's privacy czar launches Google investigation

Jun 01, 2010

Canada's privacy commissioner said Tuesday she was probing Google's inadvertent collection of data from unsecured wireless networks as its cars photographed streetscapes for its mapping service.

Recommended for you

UN moves to strengthen digital privacy (Update)

Nov 25, 2014

The United Nations on Tuesday adopted a resolution on protecting digital privacy that for the first time urged governments to offer redress to citizens targeted by mass surveillance.

Spotify turns up volume as losses fall

Nov 25, 2014

The world's biggest music streaming service, Spotify, announced Tuesday its revenue grew by 74 percent in 2013 while net losses shrank by one third, in a year of spectacular expansion.

Virtual money and user's identity

Nov 25, 2014

Bitcoin is the new money: minted and exchanged on the Internet. Faster and cheaper than a bank, the service is attracting attention from all over the world. But a big question remains: are the transactions ...

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.