May 152010
 
 May 15, 2010  Posted by  Featured News, Non-U.S., Online, Surveillance

Kevin J. O’Brien reports on the European reaction to Google’s disclosure that it had inadvertently collected personal data while collecting WiFi data as part of its Street View data collection. Germany had already been introducing legislation to curb Google, and this latest disclosure has seemingly just fanned the flames:

… But in Germany, Google’s collection of the data — which the company said could include the Web sites viewed by individuals or the content of their e-mail — is a violation of privacy law, said Ilse Aigner, the German minister for food, agriculture and consumer protection. In a statement Saturday, her ministry demanded a full accounting.

“Based on the information we have before us, it appears that Google has illegally tapped into private networks in violation of German law,” Ms. Aigner said. “This is alarming and further evidence that privacy law is a foreign concept to Google.”

Johannes Caspar, the data protection supervisor for Hamburg, who is leading the German government’s dealings with Google on the issue, said the company’s revelation of illegal data collection would be taken up by a panel of European national data protection chiefs that advises the European Commission.

“This is a data scandal of a much larger magnitude,” Mr. Caspar said. “We are talking here about the large-scale collection of private data on individuals.”

Read more in the New York Times.

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