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European privacy regulators express new concern over Google Street View data collection

Privacy regulators from EU member states expressed their concerns on Wednesday over potential privacy breaches by Google [corporate website] and are considering reopening their privacy investigations into the company. The concerns revolve around fines and a report [JURIST report] issued by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] for the company's failure to cooperate with their federal investigation. Google incurred the fine by refusing to disclose information on its alleged collection of personal information without permission during its Street View [corporate website] project. Google compiled information from unsecured wireless networks to supplement its Street View project but also collected sensitive information such as passwords and Internet usage history. The FCC argued that this information was not relevant to Google's Street View project. Google has acknowledged that it did collect the data. The European regulators are concerned [NYT report] over details in the FCC report that the data collection was not conducted by an individual engineer, but that knowledge of the practice was more widespread.

Google has faced significant inquiry into the data collection practices of its Street View product. The French National Commission of Information Technology and Liberty (CNIL) [official website, in French] fined [JURIST report] Google 100,000 euros (USD $141,300) for violating French data privacy laws by capturing personal data through Google Street View cars. In November 2010 the UK Information Commissioner's Office [official website] found that Google had committed a "significant breach" [JURIST report] of the Data Protection Act [text] and required that Google delete the payload data it collected in the UK and implement employee training on privacy principles, security awareness and the Data Protection Act. Other countries, including Canada, Australia and Spain [JURIST reports], have launched similar investigations into the privacy breach.

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