Google 'Mortified' by Street View Fiasco
Google has admitted that its fleet of Street View cars collected personal e-mails and passwords from residential Wi-Fi networks in dozens of countries.
On Oct. 22, Google announced that the cars that drive around neighborhoods taking photographs and gathering navigational data to built the comprehensive location-based Street View feature also mistakenly nabbed residents’ private information in the process.
The report follows a May announcement that Google’s Street View cars had collected unencrypted Wi-Fi data including SSID information (Wi-Fi network name) and MAC addresses (a Wi-Fi router’s unique number). The information was collected mistakenly, Google said at the time, and only in fragments, as the in-car Wi-Fi equipment rapidly changed networks to collect data on the move .
Until now, however, Google hadn’t disclosed the full nature of the information the cars gathered in their tours around the world.
Following investigations, Alan Eustace, senior vice president, Engineering and Research, said, "It’s clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords."
Eustace wrote that Google is "mortified" by the security invasion, and the company plans to delete the sensitive data "as soon as possible."
In response, Google has enacted stricter privacy regulations internally, including advanced training for employees on the company’s privacy principles, and a more comprehensive privacy compliance system.
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