Digital Transformation

Google may face ICO investigation

Internet giant could be scrutinised by the ICO for the techniques used as it compiled its Street View images

Google Street View allows people all over the world to see images of everything from city high streets to residential roads as they use the search engine to find pictures of various locations compiled by the organisation over a number of years.

Yet as the internet giant’s cars were busy driving around Britain, snapping away at homes and office blocks, it was revealed that they were collecting more than just photos – data including the likes of emails, texts and images was also captured from unsecure Wi-Fi networks.

While the company insists that they were unaware that this would happen – and that they have not used any of the information that was gathered – it still faced an investigation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US.

And despite finding that Google had broken no laws, the FCC still imposed a $25,000 (£15,300) fine, accusing the organisation of impeding its investigation.

However, given that the company’s activities may have involved the unlawful gathering of sensitive data from both households and businesses in Britain, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has indicated that it might also take action against the internet giant.

"We are currently studying the FCC report to consider what further action, if any, needs to be taken," said a spokesperson from the ICO.

Offices and homes that had secured their Wi-Fi networks will have benefitted from the data protection aspect that results from taking the necessary measures to keep their connections private, and it appears that those which did so would not have had their information gathered by the Street View cars.

But those which did not have their hubs properly safeguarded may have had sensitive details exposed, and it seems that this factor is what has prompted the ICO to take a closer look at Google’s activities as it compiled its Street View images.