It would seem as if Google has been collecting wi-fi data as part of its StreetView project. The StreetView software included a ‘rogue’ code which according to PI
“shows that the system used for the wi-fi collection intentionally separated out unencrypted content (payload data) of communications and systemaically wrote this data to hard drvies. This is equivalent to placing a hard tap and digital recorder onto a phone wire without consent or authorisation”
Google has denied that there was any criminal intent but claiming the code was included in StreetView software by mistake, however, PI is convinced the audit shows unlawful action. This puts Google in a sticky situation as the StreetView software might have potentially breached interception laws of the 30 countries it was used in.
The UK, Germany, France, Spain and Australia have all confirmed that they will be investigating this matter. The Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is accusing Google of deliberately engineering the “single greatest breach in the history of privacy”, claiming that Google, collected data as private as banking transaction.
The Google defence is that a lone engineer created the code and acted independently. Webandrank has inside information that an Indian engineer created the code. PI suggests that the code was too sophisticated, would have required a budget and a team of more than one man. Google have admitted to the unlawful collection of payload data but due to a failure in communication within teams. The joke is that Google have not even confirmed that they will sack the ‘rogue’ software engineer that was behind the incident.
It will be interesting to see how this ends. It looks like the UK is not taking it seriously but the Germans are looking to prosecute. If this is ‘criminal intent’ on the part of Google then this has massive implications for the trust that many of its users have in the search engine giant.