Google to resume taking 'Street View' photos next week

July 9, 2010
A Google "Street View" car in Hanover Germany in March 2010. Google's "Street View" cars will return to the road next week but all wireless scanning equipment has been removed after a controversy over the collection of private information.

Google's "Street View" cars will return to the road next week but all wireless scanning equipment has been removed after a controversy over the collection of private information.

Google said Friday that the camera-equipped cars, which drive around taking photographs for the Internet giant's free online mapping service, would resume operating in four countries next week and in others later.

"Having spoken to the relevant regulators, we have decided to start Street View driving in Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Sweden again starting next week," Brian McClendon, a Google vice president of engineering, said in a blog post.

"We expect to add more countries in time."

Google grounded all Street View cars in May after disclosing that they had mistakenly gathered snippets of private data sent over unsecured wireless networks.

The Mountain View, California-based search and advertising titan is facing lawsuits and investigations in a number of countries in connection with private wireless data collected by Street View cars.

According to Google, Street View cars taking photographs of cities in more than 30 countries inadvertently gathered fragments of personal information, so-called payload data, sent over unsecured Wi-Fi systems.

McClendon said the cars "will no longer collect any Wi-Fi information at all, but will continue to collect photos and 3D imagery as they did before."

He said Wi-Fi data collection equipment has been removed from its cars in each country.

"We recognize that serious mistakes were made in the collection of Wi-Fi payload data, and we have worked to quickly rectify them," McClendon added.

"However, we also believe that Street View is a great product for users, whether people want to find a hotel, check out a potential new home or find a restaurant."

Google, meanwhile, issued an apology in Australia over the collection of private data there by Street View cars and pledged to work "even more closely" with the country's privacy commissioner in the future.

"We want to reiterate to Australians that this was a mistake for which we are sincerely sorry," Google senior vice president Alan Eustace said in a post on the Google Australia blog.

"Maintaining people's trust is crucial to everything we do and we have to earn that trust every single day," Eustace said. "We are acutely aware that we failed badly here."

Street View, 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.

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4.3 / 5 (3) Jul 09, 2010
I really can hardly believe that this is a controversy. This wasn't a case of investigative journalism, or governmental oversight, or even an inside whistle blower. The only reason anyone knows about the wifi thing, is because Google volunteered the information. They probably should have just quietly fixed the error, collected it all info, pushed Delete, and kept their mouths shut.

On the bright side they have managed to publicly embarrass politicians by capturing some data from their unprotected wifi. Any affected politician should have his security clearance revoked until it is verified that his home network is at least minimally secured.
not rated yet Jul 09, 2010
I'm OK with it because I will not be naked on the street this time - at least not intentionally.

I wonder if Google can get one of their street view cars near the hsithole, FKA the Gulf of Mexico?
2.8 / 5 (4) Jul 09, 2010
There was nothing 'accidental' (or nefarious) about this. Google was collecting wifi hotspots as an aid to their mapping/location services, not for snooping private data (though that would be possible for unprotected networks). They're just backpedaling now to minimize PR damage.
not rated yet Jul 11, 2010
++ OK, but did GOOGLE say they will DESTROY all that DATA they "Inadvetantly" collected -- even if not required by government regulators?
-- I did a similar thing in 7th Grade, pretending to be running a "Dating Service" -- found out a lot of personal data (like, girls' measurements, who had crush on whom, and anything else they thought would help make a MATCH). Some of the stuff was pretty interessant and embarrassing!
-- BUT i did destroy it -- no, wait a minute, I still have it.
-- So, want to read some of the juicier profiles? Your Auntie Vi

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