South Korea police raid Google office over data collection

[JURIST] The South Korean National Police Agency (SKNPA) [official website, in Korean] raided the Google [corporate website] South Korean headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday morning in connection with accusations that the company has been illegally acquiring user data. Representatives from the SKNPA's Cyber Terror Response Center [official website, in Korean] said that officials suspect Google of collecting personal data from wireless networks using its fleet of Street View vehicles, camera-equipped cars the search engine operator uses to map streets for its Google Maps [website] service. Korean authorities said that they learned months ago that Google has been collecting data from wireless networks and will continue the investigation until they can determine if any of the data collected violates the country's privacy laws. Google has said it will cooperate with the investigation [Bloomberg report].

Multiple investigations are already pending around the world in connection with accusations that Google unlawfully collected private data. Last month, Australian authorities completed an investigation [JURIST report] into the search giant's collection and storage of private data [JURIST news archive] over unsecured wireless networks, determining that the company violated the Australia Privacy Act. In June, the UK Metropolitan Police [official website] initiated an investigation [JURIST report] in response to a complaint filed [JURIST reports] by Privacy International (PI) [advocacy website], which claims that the information gathered in an independent audit [text, PDF] published by Google earlier that month proves that the company's interception of unencrypted data was not inadvertent [JURIST report] and should lead to prosecution. Earlier that week, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal [official profile] announced that he will lead a multistate investigation [JURIST report] against Google and requested detailed information from the company on its data harvesting practices. Additionally, Canada launched an investigation [JURIST report] in June to determine whether Google has violated the country's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act [text, PDF], which applies to private organizations that collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities. Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have also asked Google to retain data collected in those respective nations.

 

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