It depends on the interpretation of "inadvertently", perhaps. There were a group of engineers who designed the system to capture data and that group later tried to "shop" the data to other groups within Google, including the Search group, but they didn't think it would add value. This was covered ad-naseum in the European press for almost 5 years now.
From the BBC in 2010:
Google said the problem dated back to 2006 when "an engineer working on an experimental wi-fi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast wi-fi data".
That code was included in the software the Street View cars used [...]
John Simpson, from the Consumer Watchdog, told the BBC: "The problem is [Google] have a bunch of engineers who push the envelope and gather as much information as they can and don't think about the ramifications of that."
This wasn't an oopsy, of some off the shelf stuff that was doing things they didn't know about. This was, at best, engineers at Google overstepping their bounds without oversight. Google is still responsible for what happened even if the left hand didn't know what the right was doing at the time.