Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is in trouble for its Street View program once again after Britain’s data regulator said an investigation by U.S. authorities had raised new questions and that it would reopen its investigation.
The British Information Commissioner’s Office said that Street View, which tries to create three-dimensional maps using cameras mounted on automated cars, had illegally accessed passwords, web addresses, emails, and other data through unsecured wireless networks. The Street View program had first been put under the spotlight after similar concerns emerged in 2010 and several international agencies started investigations.
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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) insisted then that that particular breach had been an accident. “We did not want this data, have never used any of it on our products and services, and have sought to delete it as quickly as possible,” the company said. Later that year, the agency said the company would not receive any punishment if it promised not to repeat the offense.
However, the Federal Communications Commission has since found additional information that may prove Google’s actions were not entirely a one-off accident. The FCC said in an April report that the data collection was actually a deliberate exercise. Investigators in France, Canada, and The Netherlands also found that complete email messages, instant message conversations, video, audio, medical and legal information, and data related to dating and pornographic websites had been accessed.
The ICO has now asked Google for copies of its original software design document as well as for internal company memos. In a letter sent to the company on Monday, the agency alleged that Google’s earlier defense was under doubt. “We were specifically told by Google that it was a simple mistake,” the letter read. “If the data was collected deliberately, then it is clear that this is a different situation than was reported to us in April 2010.”