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French privacy watchdog to examine Google Street View 'payload data'

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French privacy agency CNIL has requested access to "payload data" gathered by Google's Street View cars and previously thought to have been deleted.

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street view

France's data protection watchdog, CNIL, has asked Google to hand over private data collected by its Street View cars, previously thought to have been deleted, according to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek. The call follows a similar request from the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after the search giant revealed the existence of UK data on Friday.

Writing in a letter to the ICO, the company's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer admitted that Google "still has in its possession a small portion of payload data collected by our Street View vehicles in the UK." CNIL has described receiving a similar letter concerning French data, though has not made the correspondence public.

After investigations in 2009 and 2010, data collected from French Wi-Fi networks by Google's cars was found to include passwords and private email messages — the company informed CNIL that it was deleting the information in July 2011. According to the ICO letter, the remaining information was discovered during "the physical inspection and re-scanning of thousands of disks."