Google clarifies that it will share Wi-Fi data with authorities
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) will be handing over data it has mistakenly collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks over to European regulators. In a statement, a company spokesperson confirmed that the data will be handed over to government authorities in Germany, France and Spain. This reverses an earlier assurance by the company to withhold data as Google sorts through the various legal and practical problems inherent to what senior company executives have acknowledged as a "serious mistake."
In a nutshell, the team that put together the computer program used by its famous (some would say infamous) fleet of Street View vehicles made use of experimental code by another Google engineer. Unknown to them, part of this code includes functionality for tracking and recording information from unprotected Wi-Fi networks it encounters, landing Google in the current legal quagmire.
Mistake or not, nobody is comfortable with such collection of data, which as a fellow editor puts it, "raises the privacy stake." The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has already said that it will take a "very, very close look" at the situation, and many governments are also launching investigations into the matter.