ITBusiness - Lax privacy rules get Google off the hook

(29-Oct-10) Weaknesses in privacy legislation both in Canada and the U.S. helped Google escape with a mere slap on the wrist over the StreetView WiFi snooping snafu, according to tech and privacy experts.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, on Wednesday said it has closed its investigation into the matter and has back off further privacy breach investigation of the search engine.

Jennifer Stoddart, Canadian privacy commissioner, earlier said Google StreetView cars had downloaded much more than they had intended. She sent technical experts to Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters to examine the Canadian data collected. The team found that Google captured complete e-mails, log-in information, names and residential phone numbers. Among the privacy breaches found by the commission was downloaded data containing a list of people suffering from certain medical conditions along with their addresses, phone numbers and names.

But yesterday, Canada's privacy commission said it cannot comment further on the matter and can only repeat its "recommendations" that Google re-examine its privacy policies and delete any Canadian data that was collected by StreetView cars.

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