Google illegally harvested private data whilst gathering information for its Street View service in South Korea, the country’s police said on Thursday.
South Korea has become the latest country to find Google in breach of privacy laws - the search giant is already facing investigations in over 20 countries for similar offenses - but it is not yet known if investigators will prosecute.
Speaking to the Korea Times, Investigator Jung Suk-hwa of South Korea's Cyber Terror Response Center said: "We unlocked 79 computer hard disks seized from Google Korea last summer and discovered e-mails, instant messages and other private data sent over Wi-Fi networks.”
“We are now working on an additional 145 hard drives, which were handed over to us later. These disks had previously been taken out of the country," Jung added.
Google has admitted its Street View cars collected private data, but insists the whole thing was a complete accident.
The company said that it was “profoundly sorry” for the incident, and that it will continue to cooperate with both the Korean Communications Commission and the police.
“Our ultimate objective remains to delete the data consistent with our legal obligations and in consultation with the appropriate authorities,” Google said.