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Google in Spat with Europe Over Wi-Fi Data

The controversy over the recent data collection procedures from the software giant Google, is still under investigation in many countries. Privacy regulators in many European countries now want to see what exactly Google has been collecting from home Wi-Fi users while Google was filming the street view map archive, in slowly moving vehicles around the world. European privacy regulators of few countries have been allowed a distance look at the data in question, although it’s still not clear whether Google’s reluctant approach would settle a privacy issue of this magnitude.

Google reluctant

Privacy lawyers hold conflicting opinion over whether Google’s remote inspection offer would resolve the situation. However Google’s reluctancy for a complete transparent approach towards the issue has raised some serious questions across many prosecuting countries. Google diclosing an error as the cause for the 600 gigabytes of fragnmentary data compilation, was met with more sceptical views from privacy regulators across European countries initially.

The beginning

The issue was first brought into light when Google said a program error compiled 600 gigabytes of data, in reply to a request made by Joannes Casper, a data protection supervisor in Hamburg. The error was disclosed when Google was asked for the data that was collected in Germany. The data seemed to include controversial segments that jeopardizes the ethical adherence of Google within privacy regulations.

Method of investigation

Although privacy regulators from France, Spain and Germany were allowed a distance look at the data, there are issues over confirming the authenticity of the data because there is nothing to check against. The original data is residing in the head office of Google in Mount View, California. Now another wave of countries want to pursue their own investigation into the matter, thus twelve jurisdictions have requested Google to retain the original data. Countries including Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Greece, Spain, Switzerland the United States want to initiate their own approach towards the issue. Privacy International of Britain had asked the Metropolitan Police in London, whether Google should face criminal charges. Metropolitan Police in London had suggested that they would investigate, joining prosecutors in Hamburg.

Major questions

Regardless of the fact that many European countries join force in a common course, big questions like ‘who owns the data’ and ‘whether any local wiretapping laws were breached’ are still unanswered. When and how these will be investigated and confirmed are still not clear.

The issue does not however seem to be resolved any sooner. Because of the nature of the data and the conflicting opinion amongst privacy regulators, lawyers and professionals suggest a lengthy investigation phase. Europe pushing Google to turn over the particular Wi-Fi data does not seem to break Google’s reluctancy on the matter. Google also declined to comment on whether investigators would be given the actual hard drive containing the controversial Wi-Fi data. Many industry professionals believe that Google would face a series of fines and penalties but are doubtful whether this incident would lead to further changes in privacy laws and regulations.

Google’s Data Stealing Controversy in France

The largest search engine provider Google is entrapped with a new controversy. They are accused of stealing the passwords and e-mails of personal accounts of Internet users on open Wi-Fi hot spots in France which they claim as accident. But a normal human being can detect it as intentional as they first log into the Wi-Fi network and stolen the information according to their plan. The French National Commission on Information and Liberty (NCIL) has recently placed the accusation against them where they asked a clarification from Google.

Stealing the data from Wi-Fi network

The National privacy regulator of France warned Google for their activity when Google published the news of ‘accidently’ stealing the ‘payload data’ through the Wi-Fi network. Google claims that their moving car used for the street mapping used a code which can detect the payload data.

Commission’s view

In the early June after the publishing of such news by Google in their blog, National Commission of Information and Liberty of France declared to launch an investigation against this stealing. Google recently unveiled that they have collected 600 Gigabytes of data that are passed through the Wi-Fi network of 30 countries. Some countries told them to delete the data, where France asked them to store data to run an investigation. Some other countries than France like Spain, Germany and Italy also said to preserve them for investigation.

Google’s Stand

Google claims that they were collecting fragmented payloads data only which is caught as signal when their car was moving through the unprotected Wi-Fi zones. They mark this incident as mistake as this code was an experimental one for a Wi-Fi project which was first used in 2006. When the new Wi-Fi project for street mapping is initiated, the engineers included the old program unintentionally without realizing that it could collect payload data.

“As soon as we became aware of this problem, we grounded our Street View cars and segregated the data on our network, which we then disconnected to make it inaccessible,” Google said in its blog. “We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and are currently reaching out to regulators in the relevant countries about how to quickly dispose of it.”

Sending data to the respective countries

The information regulatory agency of France CNIL Chairman Alex Turk said, “Google send us the payload data in 4th June, now we are in the process of verifying them and run a open and free investigation on the issue. But we want to ensure the users that their data will be kept safe and private.” He also mentioned, “I think we could make decision about the punishment of Google within September of this year”. CNIL checking the data, e-mails and the baking details for verifying the Google’s stand.

This controversy could led another loss to the Google Buzz their already it had faced several questions for its privacy system. In this context it is very necessary for Google to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

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