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.
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 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.
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.