Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

6/21/2013
12:12 PM
50%
50%

Britain Orders Google To Delete Street View Data

Google has 35 days to purge all user personal data its Street View vehicles inadvertently collected in 2010 or face legal sanction.

The Syrian Electronic Army: 9 Things We Know
(click image for larger view)
The Syrian Electronic Army: 9 Things We Know
The U.K.'s privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Friday asked Google to destroy any personal data it claims to have collected by mistake during Street View drive-bys -- or face legal action.

The CIO has given Google 35 days to expunge personal information sucked up by Street View vehicles via Wi-Fi during 2010 drives around the U.K. to build its first picture maps of the country. "Failure to abide by the notice will be considered as contempt of court, which is a criminal offence," warned the group's head of enforcement Stephen Eckersley.

Google had intended to identify user Wi-Fi networks and map their approximate location using its vehicles' on-board GPS coordinates; the aim was to improve the company's geographic location database for location-based mobile applications. By accident, though, the vehicles mistakenly collected payload data including the email addresses, URLs and passwords of thousands of British citizens.

[ Google caught in the act of protecting user data? Read Google, Facebook Told U.K.: We Won't Be Snoops. ]

Google had promised to destroy the data in November 2010 after conversations with the ICO. However, in July last year it told the ICO that the process seems not to have been thorough enough, as it discovered it had accidentally retained four discs containing the personal data.

To add to the search giant's embarrassment, it then 'fessed up last October to finding a fifth disc, "which may contain U.K. data," although some of the data held on the disc had not been collected in the country.

The ICO's decision to reopen the case was also, it says, prompted by the publication in April 2012 of a report by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission that raised concerns around the actions of the engineer who developed the software previously used by the cars and his managers.

In its latest letter, ICO chides Google for "procedural failings and a serious lack of management oversight, including checks on the code." Although it accepts that the personal data was collected and then retained by accident, it says Google has nonetheless contravened the U.K.'s central information privacy law, the Data Protection Act. It is also "concerned" that other discs holding payload data might have been overlooked during the destruction process.

If, after destroying the latest discs, Google discovers any more such overlooked collected personal data, it must inform the watchdog at once, said the ICO.

The ICO says it issued the warning to Google instead of levying a cash fine because it accepts Google's assurances no data ever got accessed or leaked into the public domain; therefore, any harm caused to Brits affected by the Street View issue fails to meet the level required to issue a monetary penalty. But the situation should be a warning to other collectors of data, it concludes. "The punishment for this breach would have been far worse if this payload data had not been contained," said Eckersley. "The early days of Google Street View should be seen as an example of what can go wrong if technology companies fail to understand how their products are using personal information."

Google has a right to appeal the finding, dated June 11, but is not expected to. However, the reprimand does not end all of Google's issues with European data regulators. Local equivalents of the ICO have come together to assess whether Google's latest privacy policy clearly enough explains how individuals' personal information is being used across the company's products and services.

The ICO said it will be writing to Google to confirm its preliminary findings on that score.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
News
FluBot Malware's Rapid Spread May Soon Hit US Phones
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/28/2021
Slideshows
7 Modern-Day Cybersecurity Realities
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  4/30/2021
Commentary
How to Secure Employees' Home Wi-Fi Networks
Bert Kashyap, CEO and Co-Founder at SecureW2,  4/28/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-31755
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
An issue was discovered on Tenda AC11 devices with firmware through 02.03.01.104_CN. A stack buffer overflow vulnerability in /goform/setmac allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on the system via a crafted post request.
CVE-2021-31756
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
An issue was discovered on Tenda AC11 devices with firmware through 02.03.01.104_CN. A stack buffer overflow vulnerability in /gofrom/setwanType allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on the system via a crafted post request. This occurs when input vector controlled by malicious attack get copie...
CVE-2021-31757
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
An issue was discovered on Tenda AC11 devices with firmware through 02.03.01.104_CN. A stack buffer overflow vulnerability in /goform/setVLAN allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on the system via a crafted post request.
CVE-2021-31758
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
An issue was discovered on Tenda AC11 devices with firmware through 02.03.01.104_CN. A stack buffer overflow vulnerability in /goform/setportList allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on the system via a crafted post request.
CVE-2021-31458
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
This vulnerability allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code on affected installations of Foxit Reader 10.1.1.37576. User interaction is required to exploit this vulnerability in that the target must visit a malicious page or open a malicious file. The specific flaw exists within the handlin...