Google has been Threatened with Criminal Proceedings by UK Privacy Watchdog
The war between privacy and technology continues with new challenges each day. Apparently, UK Government does not like to be exposed, although they were not hesitant to spy on visiting foreign dignitaries’ virtually all digital communications at a few G8 Summits.
When UK information commissioner’s office (ICO) realized that Google Street View cars were collecting data on them, mainly images, the organization threatened Google with criminal proceedings if they don’t delete the collected data.
ICO is a non-departmental public body which reports directly to Parliament and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. Its primary function is in the fields of freedom of information and the protection of personal data in the widest sense.
According to a report in the Guardian, ICO says it will launch contempt of court proceedings if data is not deleted within 35 days. The privacy watchdog said it would prosecute the US firm under the contempt of court act if it failed to delete private information it gathered from public Wi-Fi networks.
On Friday, the ICO spokesperson said: “The ICO will be taking a keen interest in [Google’s] operations and will not hesitate to take action if further serious compliance issues come to its attention. Based on a detailed investigation, including an analysis of the data Google has recorded, the ICO has concluded that the detriment caused to individuals by this breach fails to meet the level required to issue a monetary penalty.”
This ultimatum is the result of a UK investigation that began in 2010, following the “WiSpy” revelations that launched investigations in the US and throughout Europe. Google has received some small penalties in Europe and the US but largely escaped any major consequences for the episode.
In the wake of the recent NSA surveillance disclosures, as Google is trying to show itself as a leader in consumer privacy and transparency, the renewed publicity will not be welcomed of course.
When an FCC investigation has revealed in 2010 that an engineer in Google was intentionally capturing “payload” data, Google’s cofounder Sergey Brin admitted the problem at Google’s I/O developer conference and characterized it as a “mistake.” The engineer invoked his 5th Amendment against self-incrimination and the FCC decided not to pursue a criminal case against Google.
On June 18, data protection authorities in Canada sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, asking the company to take part in a “real dialogue” about the “significant privacy issues” related to Google Glass. Google Glass isn’t publicly available yet, and even the Explorer edition is supposed to only be for US residents, but that did not stop the Canadian government from asking questions about the several privacy issues surrounding the device.
Meanwhile in USA………………………