It appears that the fallout of Google’s “unintentional” gathering of Wi-Fi data when working on the Street View project is still escalating. Yesterday morning S. Korea’s cyber crime unit raided Google’s Soul headquarters. According to an article on engadget, the raid was “due to suspicions that it may have collected and stored data from WiFi networks without authorization.”
According to engadget, this whole problem started back in 2006, when a Google engineer “working on an experimental WiFi project” wrote a piece of code for collecting “all categories of public broadcast WiFi data” — basically, all information (known as “payload”) downloaded and uploaded from an open / non-password protected network“. This code ended up in the software used by the vehicles that collected data for Street View.
South Korea is not the only country that has issues with Google’s Street View. Bloomburg.com reported today that German’s Data Privacy officials criticized Google for only giving citizens a four week window to block their buildings from being posted on the service:
“This surprised me very much,” Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s data protection regulator, said in a statement yesterday. The “quick introduction of the objection tool and the decision to start it during the summer holidays” as well as Google’s refusal to have a complaints telephone hotline “create doubts about Google’s interests in a simple and user-friendly implementation.”
According to the article, other countries are also coming forward. Along with S. Korea and Germany – privacy officials from the US, Canada, Spain, France, Italy and the Czech Republic are also getting involved.
I know it seemed an innocent enough project, seeing a view of buildings from the street level does have its merits. But with all the turmoil that it has caused, one has to wonder about the wisdom of the Street View project.