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Google still says recording was an accident

Google has found itself mired in legal proceedings and bad press after it was forced to admit in mid-May that its Street View vehicles had accidentally recorded "payload data" from open wireless networks. Google admits that it was recording SSID and MAC addresses on secure networks, but maintains it was not aware that the payload data from open networks was being captured until a Germany regulatory authority asked to audit Wi-Fi data collection procedures.

Google has stated that it is now providing European regulators with the data it collected. Previously, Google had stated that it was reviewing how to hand over the data in Germany without violating any German laws. Google is also facing an informal inquiry in the U.S. by the FTC. Canada announced this week that it would launch an official investigation into the data collection. There are also several suits pending against Google in the U.S. by individuals who allege their unsecured network data was captured by Google.

The judge in one of the suits filed in Portland has already requested that Google turn over hard drives containing the data. Those hard drives are expected to be held for perusal if the evidence becomes relevant in the Portland suit.

Turning private network data over to governments and courts is something that privacy advocates generally resist. However, the Center for Digital Democracy is glad to see Google do this. Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy told the Wall Street Journal that this is an "honesty litmus test" for Google. He continued saying, "I have all kinds of reservations and concerns about having government forcing companies to turn over information. But in this case, this is the right thing to do."





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