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EARTH OBSERVATION
FTC ends inquiry into Google 'Street View' data collection

Italy prosecutors probe Google's Street View
Milan (AFP) Oct 27, 2010 - Rome prosecutors have launched an investigation against Google for alleged invasion of privacy but its Street View mapping service, the Internet giant said Wedneday. The move follows moves against it by the Italian privacy watchdog, after similar concerns aired elsewhere in Europe. Google apologised Wednesday for the "accidental" collection of personal data during filming for Street View and said it would cooperate with the judiciary, a spokeswoman said. Italy's privacy regulator on Monday announced curbs on the mapping services, following admissions by Google that it had collected data transmitted by wifi in the various streets it covered in more than 30 countries.

These included personal emails and passwords, Google said, promising to destroy the material as soon as possible. The privacy watchdog said that Google's 33 camera cars must now "be clearly identifiable by signs and stickers" indicating they will be taking pictures for Street View. Google must also publish on its website the names of the areas it intends to photograph three days ahead and publish the same information in at least two local newspapers and a radio station so residents can choose to stay away.

Google risks fines of up to 180,000 euros (252,000 dollars) for violating the new Italian curbs. The California company has faced strong resistance to Street View, which enables Internet users to obtain a virtual image of a whole street from every angle, in some countries due to concerns over invasion of privacy. In September, the Czech data protection authority banned Google from collecting Street View data because its cameras were set too high and in Germany Google agreed to block images of houses on request. Last week, Spain's data protection authority filed a suit against Google for allegedly capturing other data from Internet users when it collected images for Street View.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 27, 2010
The US Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that it was ending its inquiry into the collection of private wireless data by Google's "Street View" mapping service.

The FTC, in a letter to the Mountain View, California-based Google, noted recent moves made by the company to prevent such an incident from happening again, and said it was satisfied with the commitments from the search giant.

Google pledged last week to strengthen its privacy and security practices after its "Street View" cars scooped up data from unsecured wireless networks, including entire emails and passwords, in dozens of countries.

Google appointed Alma Whitten, a Google expert on privacy and security, as director of privacy and said the company would enhance privacy training and "information security awareness."

In addition, Google will require that a "privacy design document" be included as part of all of its engineering projects

The FTC welcomed the moves and Google's pledge to "delete the inadvertently collected payload data as soon as possible.

"Further, Google has made assurances to the FTC that the company has not used and will not use any of the payload data collected in any Google product or service, now or in the future," it said.

"This assurance is critical to mitigate the potential harm to consumers from the collection of payload data.

"Because of these commitments, we are ending our inquiry into this matter at this time," the letter from the FTC continued.

"We ask that the company continue its dialogue with the FTC about how best to protect consumer privacy as it develops its products and services."

Google announced in May that Street View cars taking photographs of cities in more than 30 countries had inadvertently gathered data sent over unsecured Wi-Fi systems.

According to Canada's privacy commissioner, the data collected included "complete emails, email addresses, user names and passwords, names and residential telephone numbers and addresses.

Google has since stopped the collection of Wi-Fi data, used to provide location-based services such as driving directions in Google Maps and other products, by Street View cars.

Google is facing civil suits in Oregon and several other US states demanding millions of dollars in damages over its collection of personal wireless data and a number of countries have taken action against Street View.

Spain's data protection authority has filed suit against Google and the Czech data protection authority last month banned the company from taking Street View pictures, saying they violated privacy.

Google this week said that nearly a quarter of a million Germans have asked the Internet company to pixel out images of their houses on Street View.

Street View, which was launched in 2006, lets users view panoramic street scenes on Google Maps and take a virtual "walk" through cities such as New York, Paris or Hong Kong.



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EARTH OBSERVATION
Italy slaps restrictions on Google's Street View
Rome (AFP) Oct 25, 2010
Italy's privacy regulator on Monday announced restrictions on Google's Street View mapping service, echoing privacy concerns aired elsewhere in Europe. Google cars must now "be clearly identifiable by signs and stickers" indicating they will be taking pictures for Street View, the regulator said in a statement. Google must also publish on its website the names of the areas it intends to ... read more







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