Google Street View datagate earns slap on wrist from UK privacy watchdog

The Information Commissioner has delivered Google a slap on the wrist over Street View collecting personal data.

The UK privacy watchdog has ruled Google did in fact breach the Data Protection Act when it captured personal data with its Street View cars. Information commissioner Christopher Graham took a second look at Google's Street View slip-up and has brought down the full weight of his office to deliver the US search engine company a slap on the wrist it won't forget in a hurry.

Google has been in hot water since it was discovered in May that Street View cars had been hoovering up Wi-Fi data, including emails and passwords of people logged on nearby. Google claims this was an accident, honest. The Information Commissioner's Office finally decided to investigate Street View last week.

The ICO has ruled the data must be deleted as soon as legally possible. A fine of £500,000 will not be levied, which will no doubt be an enormous relief to the $150bn company.

Instead of hitting Google in its oversized wallet, the ICO will audit the company's data-protection policies. Graham is also seeking written assurance that the company won't ever do it again, ever. Honest.

That'll learn 'em.

The ruling flip-flops on the ICO's initial investigation of Street View, which involved glancing in Google's direction, shrugging its shoulders and going back to watching Countdown.

Canadian, German and Czech privacy bodies have all decided that Street Viewgate constituted a serious breach by the search giant. 

The Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, met the ICO today to discuss a revised version of the code for privacy online. Vaizey wants a similar set-up to the Press Complaints Commission to mediate between users and online companies including Google and Facebook, the social network that's had its own share of privacy woes. Sounds like a much more sensible idea than Vaizey's recent proposal to have ISPs censor websites.

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