Google denies it knew about Wi-Fi data sniffing

US regulators have cleared Google over a Wi-Fi sniffing debacle, despite saying at least three Google employees were aware of the privacy invading project.

Google denies it knew about Wi-Fi data sniffing

Last year, Google was force to admit its Street View camera cars had also been collecting Wi-Fi data, and had grabbed bits and pieces of personal information.

An investigation by US regulators showed the Google engineer who wrote the program told at least two other Google employees about it.

The fact was revealed in an FCC report, but had been redacted out by the FCC when it released its report two weeks ago. Google released the report itself over the weekend, with only names and telephone numbers blacked out.

Engineer Doe intended to collect, store and review payload data for possible use in other Google projects

Google was fined $25,000 by the FCC for impeding its investigation into the matter, in which the company’s Street View cars collected the Wi-Fi data over several years while crisscrossing the globe taking panoramic pictures of streets.

According to the Google-released version of the report, the company told the FCC it did not initially know about software that would gather personal data – known as “payload data”.

“Engineer Doe specifically told two engineers working on the project, including a senior manager, about collecting payload data,” the agency said in the report. “Engineer Doe intended to collect, store and review payload data for possible use in other Google projects.

“Nevertheless, managers of the Street View project and other Google employees who worked on Street View have uniformly asserted in declarations and interviews” that they did not know about it, the FCC report said.

Google released the less-edited version of the report to the media after saying it had cooperated fully with the agency.

“We decided to voluntarily make the entire document available except for the names of individuals,” the company said in a statement emailed to Reuters in New York.

“While we disagree with some of the statements made in the document, we agree with the FCC’s conclusion that we did not break the law. We hope that we can now put this matter behind us.”

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