UK launches new investigation into Google Street View privacy case

UK data regulators have re-opened their investigation into Google's Street View data collection.

As reported by the BBC, the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) penned a letter to the search giant asking for more details about how equipment attached to its Street View cars collected personally identifiable information traveling over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.

The two sides reached an agreement in 2010 whereby Google would implement more security training for employees and data protection requirements for new features. But after the Federal Communications Commission in the US released an April 2012 report that said several employees and at least one senior manager knew of the data gathering, the ICO decided to take another look.

"We're happy to answer the ICO's questions. We have always said that the project leaders did not want and did not use this payload data. Indeed, they never even looked at it," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.

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

That FCC report ordered Google to pay a $25,000 (£16,000) fine over the data collection, which some believed was just a slap on the wrist. At issue is a May 2010 admission from Google that equipment attached to its Street View cars collected data that was traveling over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks, known as payload data. At first Google said it did not know if that data included personally identifiable information, but the company later admitted that it did include entire email addresses, URLs and passwords.

After that admission, Google agreed to make some privacy changes, prompting the Federal Trade Commission to close its investigation into the matter. But the FCC conducted its own investigation, prompting the fine.

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