ICO In The UK: Google Street View's Personal Data Represents ‘Significant Breach’

Man, another day, another “Google in privacy uproar” story. I guess my name is Phil Connors. The UK Information Commissioner has said that yes, in fact, Google did commit a “significant breach” of the Data Privacy Act when it collected people’s private information with its Street View vehicles. Great, so what happens now?

Well, Google isn’t expected to pay a fine, or face any sort of punitive action, but the Information Commissioner’s Office (which is “the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals”) will instead audit the company’s “data protection practices.”

But given that Google has sworn repeatedly, and almost every other day at this point, that it will give a once-over to the way its Street View handle themselves, the ICO is basically giving Google a pass here. Maybe not a pass, but it’s threatening to do what Google has said it will already do. So.

Needless to say, this meek action hasn’t been met with rose petals.

An MP said:

The ICO failed to act when it should have done, despite the fact that Google staged a significant infringement of privacy and civil liberties, by harvesting millions of e-mails, wi-fFi addresses, and passwords. Furthermore, the ICO has already proved that it lacks the technical expertise to audit Google’s activity. What confidence can we have in their audit now? People feel powerless.

Nice. Google does something bad (accidentally or otherwise), admits to its mistake, then faces an insignificant punishment.