Steve Eckersley, enforcement chief of the British Information Commissioner's Office, said Google Inc. had questions to answer about Street View, an attention-grabbing project which sent camera-toting vehicles across the globe to create three-dimensional maps of the world's highways and byways.
But the cars weren't just taking pictures: They were scooping up passwords, Web addresses, emails, and other sensitive data transmitted over unsecured wireless networks.
There was outrage on both sides of the Atlantic when the data-slurping was exposed in early 2010, and the Information Commissioner's Office was one of several European agencies which investigated Street View in the aftermath of the scandal. But in November of that year, the ICO gave Google a mere slap on the wrist, saying that while Google had violated British data protection laws it would escape any fines so long as it pledged not to do it again.
At the time, Google insisted that the breach was an accident.
"We did not want this data, have never used any of it on our products and services, and have sought to delete it as quickly as possible," the company claimed back then.
Evidence made public earlier this year by the Federal Communications Commission has since punctured Google's "oops-I-took-your-data" defense."
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