After getting itself into all kinds of trouble over the collection of personal wi-fi data, Google has promised to behave itself.
There were widespread complaints earlier this year after it was revealed that the Street Views collected for Google also snatched data from wi-fi setups in houses which were photographed
Google grounded its Street View cars and stopped the collection of wi-fi data on May 7th. The firm said that it then segregated and stored all of the data already collected.
Canada's Privacy Commissioner launched an investigation into Google, and has made a number of recommendatrions which it says Google must implement by next Frbruary in order to consider the matter closed. They include proper training of staff and controls on data gathering to ensure privacy is protected. The report can be read here.
Google said it still intends to offer location-based services, but does not intend to resume collection of wi-fi data through its Street View cars.
“Collection is discontinued and Google has no plans to resume it,” the Canadian Commissioner's report said. “Google does not intend to contract out to a third party the collection of wi-fi data.”
Google said it intends to rely on its users’ handsets to collect the information on the location of wi-fi networks that it needs for its location-based services database.
“The improvements in smart-phone technology in the past few years have allowed Google to obtain the data it needs for this purpose from the handsets themselves,” the report said.
“Although it has no tracking tool to keep records of a customer’s locations (and does not intend to create one), Google acknowledges that it does need to examine the potential privacy concerns of this method of collection.”
New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner also investigated Google. A spokesperson for the Commissioner told TechDay, "Our investigation has progressed well but we are waiting for Google to get back to us on some of the specific points that we have raised."
Do you feel better or worse about that?
Google now admits that the system captured entire e-mails,
URLs and even user passwords.
The admission came in the form of a blog post by Alan
Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research at Google:
"It’s clear from those inspections that while most of the
data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as
well as passwords. We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would
like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place," he wrote.
“We’re acutely aware that we failed badly here,” Eustace added.
Eustace said the company was “mortified” by the discovery
that sensitive information was collected when the Street View cars drove
through neighbourhoods around the world and said Google was making major
changes internally to deal with user privacy, security and compliance.
Some of the data has already been deleted and Eustace said
Google will delete the rest of the data “as soon as possible”.