Google Inc : U.K. Reopens Probe Into Google Mapping Function
06/12/2012| 02:55pm US/Eastern
--U.K. decision follows FCC probe into Google's Street View data capture
--U.K. seeks detailed explanations from Google on data collection
(Adds details beginning in first paragraph, and ICO comments in third paragraph.)
By Nick Winning and Marietta Cauchi
LONDON--The U.K.'s information watchdog said Tuesday that it was reopening an investigation into Google Inc. (GOOG), requesting detail on what its Google Street View vehicles collect.
The Information Commissioner's Office said it was reopening its investigation after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said Google's Street View vehicles had captured data, including emails, passwords, and other data from unprotected wireless networks there.
"Please list precisely what type of personal data and sensitive personal data was captured within the payload data collected in the U.K.," Steve Eckersley, the head of enforcement at the ICO, wrote in a letter to Google Senior Vice President Alan Eustace and made public by the ICO.
The ICO is an independent U.K. authority set up to uphold information rights, promote openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
Mr. Eckersley asked the company to confirm at what point Google managers became aware this type of data were collected by their Street View vehicles in the U.K., and what measures were introduced to limit that collection.
The ICO also asked for a "substantial explanation" as to why this type of data weren't included in the watchdog's previous request for Google in 2010 to provide information on its street-mapping activities.
In November 2010, Google agreed to delete "fragments of personal data" from wireless networks that had been collected by its Street View vehicles.
In response to an earlier report by the BBC, a Google spokesman said the company was "happy to answer the ICO's questions."
Write to Marietta Cauchi at firstname.lastname@example.org