ICO issues Google with notice over street car data collection

By Danny Palmer
21 Jun 2013 View Comments
Google Streetview Red Car

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has served Google with an enforcement notice regarding the collection of data by the web firm's Street View cars.

The decision follows an investigation into Google which found its collection of payload data by Street View cars was a result of management oversight when it came to the coding behind them. However, the ICO's investigation also concluded that there was insufficient evidence to suggest Google intended to collect personal data.

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If Google does not delete the remaining data, it will be regarded in contempt of court and eligible to be fined.

"Today's enforcement notice strengthens the action already taken by our office, placing a legal requirement on Google to delete the remaining payload data identified last year within the next 35 days and immediately inform the ICO if any further disks are found. Failure to abide by the notice will be considered as contempt of court, which is a criminal offence," said Stephen Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement.

Eckersley added that there are lessons to be learned from the case when it comes to organisations understanding their own data.

"The early days of Google Street View should be seen as an example of what can go wrong if technology companies fail to understand how their products are using personal information," he said, adding Google would have received a bigger penalty if the data had not been lost.

"The punishment for this breach would have been far worse, if this payload data had not been contained."

The ICO is continuing an ongoing investigation to discern whether Google's privacy policy is compliant with the Data Protection Act.

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