Monday, April 30, 2012

FCC: "Street View" led to personal data collection, which was not illegal (at the time)


Again (the second time this weekend), I don’t like to bite the silverware at the dinner table, but, for the same of completeness if nothing else, here’s a story widely repoted, here from PC World, that the FCC (not FTC) is saying that several employees and at least one manager at Google knew that its “Street View”  project was collecting personal data, apparently from unsecured WiFi networks (the “wardriving” problem).  The link to the story by Adario Strange is (website url) here.

The FCC has the Report, called a “Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture” on Scribd, here. The names of individual employees are redacted.  The FCC says that that the data collection did not break existing federal law, but imposed a $25000 civil fine for allegedly not cooperating with the investigation.

Jessica Guynn has a story in the Los Angeles Times Sunday, here.  The story is illustrated with pictures of the vehicles involved. 
  
CNET has a detailed report by Edward Moyer, here.

There is no evidence that any information was otherwise mishandled or distributed, and the matter probably has no practical significance to people.  The biggest danger to individuals from any unauthorized data collection might come to those in unusually sensitive family or business situations where someone might have enough incentive to try to get and misuse the information to target them. 

Picture: More from DC Science Exhibit. 

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