Google said its Street View cars had in fact collected entire passwords, e-mails and browser URLs. The confession is drawing jeers from privacy experts who mistrust Google.
Google Oct. 22 admitted that its Street View cars had collected peoples'
entire passwords, e-mails and browser URLs from unencrypted WiFi networks.
The search engine said it is also taking steps to improve privacy by
installing a director of privacy, who will make sure that employees are
properly instructed on Google's privacy principles and internal compliance
in May that Street View, a Google Maps feature that records
images of city streets all over the world, had accidentally stored 600
gigabytes of citizens' data from more than 30 countries since 2007.
Alan Eustace, Google's senior vice president of engineering and research,
said in his May 14 blog post
that the data collected comprised only fragments of
e-mails, password information and URLs. Google has since worked
with authorities in Germany,
Ireland, the United
Kingdom and the United
States, among others, to delete or turn over
However, Eustace said in a new blog post
that some users' whole e-mails, passwords and
browser URLs were collected via the Street View cars, whose computers captured
the data on disk drives in Google's possession.
But Google had not analyzed the data it collected, so the company's
engineers did not know what the disks contained. External regulators found that
whole data was indeed stored by Street View.
"It's clear from those inspections that while most of the data is
fragmentary, in some instances entire e-mails and URLs were captured, as well
as passwords," Eustace said. "We want to delete this data as soon as
possible, and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it
in the first place."
Eustace added that Google is putting in three measures to ensure such issues
don't happen in the future. Google appointed Alma Whitten as director of
privacy to make sure the company's engineering and product groups practice
Whitten, Google's engineering lead on privacy for the last two years, will
have several additional engineers and product managers working with her.