Google engineers and executives allegedly knew their Street View cars were stealing personal data from citizens but chose to cover it up. It's unclear what Google intended to do with the information, but since having admitted to the theft in 2010, the company has insisted the snooping was a mistake.
Despite its claims to the contrary, it appears the company knew about the issue as early as 2007, with at least one senior manager in the US being warned that the cars were snooping. A Federal Communications Commission report released in April of 2012 revealed that the Google employee who wrote the code for the Street View software told his superiors of its personal data collection.
Google's Street View function garnered much contempt from citizens concerned about privacy when they were rolled out in Europe over the past few years. In this particular case, the Street View cars allegedly took advantage of open Wi Fi networks to harvest data in the form of photos, documets and emails from millions of computers as they drove down pretty much every street in the UK.
The Information Commissioner's Office, Britain's privacy watchdog, has said it would launch an inquiry into new evidence related to the matter. The ICO, whose handling of Google has long been criticised as weak and inefficient, is further beleaguered by recent claims that Google executives and top government officials are too close for comfort.
As the search giant emerges as a leader in other markets, it's likely that concerns about privacy will continue to surface.