An investigation by the officials from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) into the data collection practices of one of Google’s most popular, and controversial services, Street View has thrown up some shocking results. FCC, in its report now reveals that Google staffers were aware of the service’s controversial nature, and that it was picking up details of one’s personal information, like emails and text messages in 2007 and 2008. The report, which can be read here, reveals that the Google engineer who was assigned the responsibility of collecting private information via wireless networks from Street View cars, kept his other colleagues, which also included a senior manager constantly updated on the data breach, i.e. that the Street View cars were designed to collect personal information in 2007 and again in 2008. This report comes as an update to an earlier report about the FCC imposing a $25,000 fine on Google for having delayed the investigation into their data collection practices for its Street View Project.
Getting the Street View
It all began when it was realized that between May 2007 and May 2010, Google had collected data from Wi-Fi networks from across the world, as part of its Street View project, and in the process also collected data that was not needed for its location database project. These details, which included passwords, Internet usage history and other sensitive personal data, were classified as payload data, and with Google publicly acknowledging that that it had collected payload data in May 2010, an FCC investigation on whether it had violated the Communications Act began.
In an official statement given to The Guardian, a Google spokesperson stated, “We decided to voluntarily make the entire document available except for the names of individuals. While we disagree with some of the statements made in the document, we agree with the FCC's conclusion that we did not break the law. We hope that we can now put this matter behind us.”
Google Street View Project has been one of Google's most ambitious projects, which saw it bringing several global landscapes to the comfort of one's computer.