back to article Google misses German regulator Street Car Wi-Fi data grab deadline

Google has failed to hand over some data it inadvertently collected from Wi-Fi networks to German regulators. Earlier this month German prosecutors launched an investigation into the company’s interception of private Wi-Fi data, after Google admitted that its world-roving Street View cars had scooped up information sent over …


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  1. blackworx

    Google fought the law

    So they had no legal concerns while (illegally and surreptitiously) collecting, but they now have legal concerns when asked (lawfully and in the open) by the represantatives, er, of the law, to hand over what's been collected?

    Someone's getting waaaay too big for that baby bouncer.

  2. theJML


    Why didn't Google just delete the data? Distributing the data just makes the whole thing worse! Delete the data, don't pass it off. This is like Germany is sanctioning the distribution of illegal data, which would be massively against the law in most, if not all, jurisdictions.

    Because we can trust the German Government more than we can trust Google with the data?

    Google: Take the drives out back and shoot them with Deer Slugs from close range. Video tape it. Throw it on youtube. Bump the news story on your servers. Do something that would make people actually trust you again. "Look, we did something wrong, so we're fixing that by getting rid of everything we illegally collected. <BAM!> Thanks for your time. We feel better that we got that off our chest."

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Thumb Down

      You compound the crime.


      Let's murder joe and then hide the body. That way no body, no crime! It will just be our little secret.

      The problem is that too many people know and there's enough forensic evidence to the fact that they committed the crime.

      Now all you need is a whistle blower to substantiate the crime and the lack of data means a lack of being able to determine innocence or guilt.

      How much data was ultimately collected and what data was collected is important. Destroy any evidence and you can expect the worst.

  3. Olafthemighty
    Thumb Up

    "...inadvertantly collected"?

    Nice one!

  4. Peter H. Coffin

    *Original* hard drives?

    How would they be able to tell? What would they expect to gain from looking at a hard drive?

  5. ratfox
    Thumb Down

    Who will watch the watchmen?

    I believe the regulator is a little bit to hasty in claiming that the protection of private data does not apply when giving it to the regulator. In the United States, I have absolutely no doubt that this would lead to a class action, especially with such fat targets as Google and the government.

    1. Rolf Howarth

      Re: who will watch the watchmen?

      I think it was the chief public prosecutor in Hamburg who said Google were allowed to give the data to the data protection regulator, not the regulator himself.

      As for why Google don't just destroy the data, that would be a serious mistake if they've been asked not to. It's destruction of evidence and a serious criminal offence (as in "CFO at Enron feeding incriminating documents into the shredder while SEC agents are downstairs with a search warrant" type of serious - lengthy prison sentence, not a fine and mild slap on the wrist).

  6. Basic

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

    Ignoring for a moment how Google got the data, I can understand that they're in a difficult situation - Hand over data as requested by the government (so they can potentially prosecute you and in doing so break another law) or refuse to hand over the data (and probably be prosecuted for that too)

    Rock - meet hard place.

    Taking into account how they got the data I find their current predicament to be -er- delicious :D

    I was going to go with Paris 'cos she's delicio.... -er- no.

    (And I should really have double-checked the spelling on that title but it's home time)

    1. MnM

      A little latin is a dangerous thing

      failus maximus

    2. Doshu
      Thumb Up


      Me likey -- been a while since i'd seen that one. Nice.

  7. Parsifal
    Black Helicopters

    Need more time to cleanse the data.

    I'd guess in reality Google want more time to 'adjust' the contents of the data they collected, so it doesn't look as bad as it really is.

    How on earth could you accidentally capture any data? they got caught and now its all about damage control.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Somewhere in the 600GB is *my* data

    Yes, I have an open wireless network, and the Google Spymobile has been by my house. So I think I'm in as good a position as anyone to speak for the thousands of people whose data Google scooped up, and this is what I have to say: Delete it!

    Sure I realize Google's got themselves into a sticky situation. Some countries are demanding they destroy the data, other's that they turn it over. Irrespective of the fact that this is Google's own fault, I can somewhat sympathize with how awkward that is.

    However, I don't at all agree with Google's earlier decision to delay deleting the data across the board. Except where they have already been specifically ordered to retain the data, they should delete it ASAP. This also means they should have deleted all the data as soon as it was discovered. The very first press release should have read "We recently discovered that our Street View cars had been misconfigured to collect unsecured wireless data. This has been corrected, and all the data has been deleted." And that could have been the end of it.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Great! You can sue them...

      Go ahead and start a class action lawsuit.

      Make a local lawyer happy!

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Yeah. I'm sure that grabbing a few seconds of packets of an unsecured unecrypted network connection and holding that data for god-knows-how-long was a deliberate and targeted measure by them, I mean after all, I'm sure it is going to be so useful to them. Moron.

    1. Rolf Howarth

      Google = data

      The whole essence of what Google is about is data. ALL data is useful to them, no matter how irrelevant it seems to us. They can read cookies and see what web sites are being accessed. Even if you use SSL they know what hosts are being connectd to.

      It's not about whether there is enough information to target any one individual. Google don't care about individuals. Just a snapshot of a cross-section of the populations browsing habits broken down geographically is incredibly useful for data mining and statistical analsys. And it's not just web traffic, which they probably already understand pretty well. This is everything: email, chat, peer-to-peer, which VPNs people use, which shows are most popular on iPlayer, etc.

      They must have thought collecting all that data when they're driving up and down the streets was too good an opportunity to miss so it's difficult to believe it wasn't a deliberate decision.

  10. Peter D'Hoye

    Two things

    1) above posters assuming Google collected the data on purpose. If they did, why would they come out with this now, and why did they only collect 600GB in 30 countries. That's peanuts, and probably consists only of 1 or 2 IP packets per AP. What would they do with that? Nothing.

    Google was trying to map AP names to GPS locations to allow yet another way of getting your position (for google maps et al). If THAT rises privacy concerns to you, please do not visit sites like - wifi spots have already been recorded by many, why can't Google.

    2) If Google hands over the data to Germany without analyzing it themselves, they might hand them data from other countries too. They should indeed just delete the data and get on with it. Any further processing or moving around of this unwanted data is plain stupid.

    oh, I actually have a third one. For the paranoid idiots above. Get a life.

    1. Oninoshiko

      or atleast

      get encryption.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Google for forced to reveal this

      The data was discovered after a German government request to see the data or source code was lodged with Google. Google didn't own up to it, they were forced to reveal it.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Why does the German goverment really need your data?

    Are they planning on using it against Google or You?

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