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French regulators: Google snagged passwords, e-mail

Privacy regulators in France determine that Google stored some people's e-mails and passwords when it was collecting data from unsecured Wi-Fi hot spots.

Google collected passwords and e-mail when the company intercepted and stored data detected on open Wi-Fi hot spots in France, according to the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty.

Google Street View
Google Street View cars collected personal information while detecting wireless networks. CNET Asia

The commission launched an investigation in early June after Google admitted that it had stored fragments of personal information from open Wi-Fi hot spots as its fleet of vehicles drove around neighborhoods around the world collecting data for its Street View mapping service. Google collected data in 30 countries. Some countries asked the company to delete the data. Other countries, namely France, Spain, Germany, and Italy, requested that the data be kept so that they could conduct investigations.

Google claims that it had been collecting only fragments of payload data because vehicles were on the move and could only get information when they passed places where an unsecured Wi-Fi network in use. The company also said that the collection was a mistake. The code that was written to collect the data was part of an experimental Wi-Fi project started in 2006. When a new Wi-Fi project was launched a year later for Street View, Google has said, engineers included the old code without realizing that it was collecting payload information.

Lawsuits have already been filed against Google in the United States. Congressional leaders are also looking into the matter.