Google releases full FCC Street View investigation
Google knew of data harvest
Google has disclosed the full results of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report into the collection of personal data through the Street View photography cars.
It reveals that the unnamed Engineer Doe who created the data harvesting code intended to “collect, store and review payload data for possible use in other Google projects”. Furthermore, Engineer Doe told at least one senior manager as well as one other engineer about his plans back in 2008. It was two years before it was discovered that the Street View cars were collecting data from unsecured wireless networks, including passwords, fragments of emails and email addresses, as well as some URLs visited. The information was gathered in more than 30 countries, including the UK, over the course of two years.
This full investigation was published in the Los Angeles Times after heavily redacted snippets were made public on 17 April 2012. The FCC concluded that Google did not break the law, but levied the search giant with a $25,000 (£15,360) fine because it “deliberately impeded and delayed” the investigation. This is of course small fry for a company that made billions of dollars in Q1 2012.
The report backs up Google’s claims that Street View’s senior managers were not aware of the data collection until 2010, when the matter came to public attention. However, it contradicts initial claims that the information was gathered “mistakenly”, and proves Engineer Doe was not the only person at the company aware of the practice. The individual – whose name is still censored in the published report – invoked the Fifth Amendment to refuse to give evidence that could have lead to a prosecution.
Richard Frost, managing editor at theEword, said: “Google has clearly published the full FCC investigation to mitigate some of the bad PR this issue has caused, and to live up to the transparent culture it has fostered over the years. However, the report also raises major questions about the lack of communication within the company, which have not yet been answered.”