ICO U-turns on Street View

Lapdog growls


The Information Commissioner's Office has changed its mind about Google's Street View and decided that it is after all in breach of the Data Protection Act.

The watchdog will require Google to sign a piece of paper promising not to break the law again.

The ICO will also audit Google's privacy practices.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: "It is my view that the collection of this information was not fair or lawful and constitutes a significant breach of the first principle of the Data Protection Act. The most appropriate and proportionate regulatory action in these circumstances is to get written legal assurance from Google that this will not happen again – and to follow this up with an ICO audit.”

The ICO said: "The Commissioner has rejected calls for a monetary penalty to be imposed but is well placed to take further regulatory action if the undertaking is not fully complied with."

The Metropolitan Police last week dropped its investigation into the Street View.

The search and ad giant recently appointed a privacy director to help it sort out internal practices and oversee privacy in all its products. This came after it admitted that its mass Wi-Fi snoop from its fleet of Street View cars had slurped up passwords and entire emails and URLs. The company insists the data was collected accidentally.

The U-turn ends a less than glorious episode for the ICO which initially cleared Google's collection of Wi-Fi data by insisting it contained no personal information.

Then the ICO reopened its investigation in the wake of tougher action by other privacy bodies around the world.

Last week it was attacked by MPs, who described its behaviour as "lily-livered".

The Czech Republic recently stopped Google's Street View cars collecting more pictures until Google applies for a data processing licence.

Big Brother Watch's Alex Deane said: "The Information Commissioner’s failure to take action is disgraceful.

“Ruling that Google has broken the law, but then taking no action against it, shows the Commissioner to be a paper tiger. The Commissioner is an apologist for the worst offender in his sphere of responsibility, not a policeman of it.

"If Google can harvest the personal information of thousands of people and get off scot-free, then the ICO plainly has a contempt for privacy."®

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Venezuelan cardiologist charged with designing and selling ransomware
    If his surgery was as bad as his opsec, this chap has caused a lot of trouble

    The US Attorney’s Office has charged a 55-year-old cardiologist with creating and selling ransomware and profiting from revenue-share agreements with criminals who deployed his product.

    A complaint [PDF] filed on May 16th in the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, alleges that Moises Luis Zagala Gonzalez – aka “Nosophoros,” “Aesculapius” and “Nebuchadnezzar” – created a ransomware builder known as “Thanos”, and ransomware named “Jigsaw v. 2”.

    The self-taught coder and qualified cardiologist advertised the ransomware in dark corners of the web, then licensed it ransomware to crooks for either $500 or $800 a month. He also ran an affiliate network that offered the chance to run Thanos to build custom ransomware, in return for a share of profits.

    Continue reading
  • China reveals its top five sources of online fraud
    'Brushing' tops the list, as quantity of forbidden content continue to rise

    China’s Ministry of Public Security has revealed the five most prevalent types of fraud perpetrated online or by phone.

    The e-commerce scam known as “brushing” topped the list and accounted for around a third of all internet fraud activity in China. Brushing sees victims lured into making payment for goods that may not be delivered, or are only delivered after buyers are asked to perform several other online tasks that may include downloading dodgy apps and/or establishing e-commerce profiles. Victims can find themselves being asked to pay more than the original price for goods, or denied promised rebates.

    Brushing has also seen e-commerce providers send victims small items they never ordered, using profiles victims did not create or control. Dodgy vendors use that tactic to then write themselves glowing product reviews that increase their visibility on marketplace platforms.

    Continue reading
  • Oracle really does owe HPE $3b after Supreme Court snub
    Appeal petition as doomed as the Itanic chips at the heart of decade-long drama

    The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Oracle's appeal to overturn a ruling ordering the IT giant to pay $3 billion in damages for violating a decades-old contract agreement.

    In June 2011, back when HPE had not yet split from HP, the biz sued Oracle for refusing to add Itanium support to its database software. HP alleged Big Red had violated a contract agreement by not doing so, though Oracle claimed it explicitly refused requests to support Intel's Itanium processors at the time.

    A lengthy legal battle ensued. Oracle was ordered to cough up $3 billion in damages in a jury trial, and appealed the decision all the way to the highest judges in America. Now, the Supreme Court has declined its petition.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022