German regulator demands Google hard drives

A German regulator has threatened Google with legal action if the snooping giant fails to hand over a hard drive containing the private Wi-fi data it claimed it collected by "mistake".

Google last week confessed to having collected data from unsecured private wireless networks around the world using its Street View vehicles.

Johannes Caspar, data protection officer for Hamburg, said that he had given Google until May 26 to come up with one of the hard drives on which it stored information collected in Germany.

Google has offered to destroy data in it s possession, but seems reluctant to hand over the drive.

In a statement regarding Google's prevarication, EU justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, said “It is not acceptable that a company operating in the E.U. does not respect E.U. rules."

Google said it had collected 600 gigabytes of data from unsecured wireless area networks from around the world

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told a UK conference today that his firm has the most “privacy-centric” policy. He claimed Google had not used the illegally-collected data in any way. “As a society we haven’t figured out what we want to do with all this new technology and what’s appropriate,” Schmidt said. “Societies will determine the outcomes differently,” he flannelled.

Over the weekend, Google said it destroyed the data it collected in Ireland, at the request of the regulator.

The destruction was witnessed by Alex Stamos, an Isec Partners employee, who said the data was contained on four hard drives, organised into folders corresponding to individual countries. He said he created volumes on two new encrypted hard drives and copied over all of the data except that identified as having been gathered in Ireland.

"I then witnessed the destruction of the four hard drives," Stamos wrote.