Google relents, will hand over European Wi-Fi data

Google plans to hand over sniffed Wi-Fi data to European regulators

In a reversal of course, Google now says that it will give European regulators data it secretly collected from open wireless networks over the past three years.

A Google spokesman said Thursday that the data should be handed over within a matter of days. Last week, the company found itself in conflict with a privacy regulator at the German city of Hamburg, who wanted access to the data. Google said that it wasn't sure that handing over the data would be legal.

"The data protection authority in Hamburg has made a number of requests -- including to be given access to an original hard-drive containing the payload data, and to a Street View car. We want to cooperate with these requests -- indeed we have already given him access to a car -- but as granting access to payload data creates legal challenges in Germany which we need to review, we are continuing to discuss the appropriate legal and logistical process for making the data available," Google said in a statement last week.

Those challenges have apparently now been addressed.

The company plans to hand over data to German, French and Spanish authorities, according to the Financial Times, (FT) which first reported this latest development on Thursday.

Google will publish a review of its privacy practices sometime within the next month, and also plans to publish the findings of an external audit into its Wi-Fi snooping operations, the FT reports. "We screwed up. Let's be very clear about that," Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the newspaper.

The search engine company has never completely explained how its Street View vehicles ended up recording all kinds of data sent over open wireless networks, including e-mail messages and data from Web pages. In a May 14 blog post, the company said that an engineer added the functionality to a 2006 beta version of its Street View software and that, somehow, it was never taken out when the product went live.

Google had been collecting some data about wireless networks to help improve its geo-location products, but, until May, it had denied that it was sniffing the sensitive "payload" data of these networks.

Since then, it's come under the scrutiny of U.S. and international regulators and been the target of at least six class action lawsuits.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GoogleWiFiwireless networksEuropean

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?