Google oops: Did not delete Street View data as promised

Company says that it still retains "a small portion" of personal user data that it had agreed to scrub.

A Google Street View car in action. James Martin/CNET

Google, right hand meet left hand?

The company was supposed to scrub all the personal user data its Street View vehicles in Britain and elsewhere had collected in 2010. Somehow, that did not happen.

Google disclosed the information on Friday to the U.K's. Information Commissioner's Office. As part of an agreement signed in November 2010, Google was supposed to have deleted the data by December 2010.

"Google has recently confirmed that it still has in its possession a small portion collected by our Street View vehicles in the UK," Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel wrote in a letter released by the ICO. He said that "Google apologizes for this error."

That may not be enough to calm some very ticked off regulators on the other side of the pond.

"The fact that some of this information still exists appears to breach the undertaking to the ICO signed by Google in November 2010," the agency said in the statement. "The ICO is clear that this information should never have been collected in the first place and the company's failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern."

The broken promise also brought a sharp response from Gary Davis, Ireland's data protection officer, who said Google's violation of agreements signed with European governments was "clearly unacceptable." Davis wants an answer from the company by Wednesday.

Google declined to comment beyond Fleischer's comment.


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