Police drop probe into Google Street View fiasco

Metropolitan Police says criminal investigation "not appropriate"

Stewart Mitchell
29 Oct 2010

Google will not face a criminal investigation into the Street View data collection fiasco, after the Metropolitan Police decided to drop the case.

The data breach was brought to the attention of the police after campaign group Privacy International alleged that collection of Wi-Fi network data while Google was capturing Street View images represented a criminal interception.

However, police said that having looked at the details the force would not be launching a formal investigation.

“We have considered the allegation into the data breach and we have been liaising with the Information Commissioner's Office,” a Met spokesperson told PC Pro.

“We have decided that it would not be appropriate to launch a criminal investigation into the issue and that's the end of the matter as far as we're concerned.”

The ball is now firmly back in the court of the ICO, which earlier this week effectively admitted it had not fully investigated the data breach when it first came to light back in April and said it was considering re-opening its investigation.

The change of stance came after Google admitted its data collection cars had collected more information than the company originally let on.

The ICO is able to fine organisations up to £500,000, but has yet to dish out any such punishment, and has been criticised for failing to act over privacy breaches. " title="IT PRO" target="_blank"]Reports suggest the ICO won't be able to fine Google, because the incident happened before it was given such powers.

The watchdog came under fire earlier this week over the issue, when Conservative MP Rob Halfon accused it of not treating privacy breaches by web giants seriously enough.

“As a country we don’t take individual rights seriously enough and the Information Commissioner’s response has been woeful," Halfon told PC Pro. “The Canadian and South Korean governments have dealt with the Google breach much more thoroughly."

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