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Google releases FCC's Street View report, reiterates claims that data collection was 'inadvertent'

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Google has released a copy of the FCC report into data collection of its Street View service to the LA Times.

Google Street View promo
Google Street View promo

Google has released the FCC report into its Street View service to the Los Angeles Times. Following heated debate with the FCC over what information had to be redacted, the document only has personal names removed. The report blames a single rogue engineer for the privacy breach, with his colleagues and managers denying any knowledge that the software collected personal data (also known as payload data) as it logged open Wi-Fi networks. The engineer, who has not been named, declined to speak to the FCC during its investigation.

The report describes how the engineer told two other coders that the software would collect this payload data, as well as including it in a document distributed to the entire Street View team. However, managers of the program have said that they did not read the document, while other engineers have pleaded ignorance of the entire issue and "did not notice" that the software would behave in this way.

The report also includes an accusation by the FCC that Google deliberately withheld an email that included the engineer's view on personal data with a senior Street View manager — presumably the cause of the $25,000 fine levied against the company. However, Google maintains that any gathering of payload data was inadvertent, and that it had never authorised its collection. More worryingly, it's still unexplained how such a fundamental flaw in a product went entirely unnoticed by the rest of the team.