Privacy International said that it plans on approaching the Police regarding Google’s recent admission that it had accidentally collected data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks during the last three years.
The error came to light after the German data protection authority audited the data collected by Google Street View cars for use in location-based products such as Google Maps.
The authority revealed that Google had been collecting SSID information, MAC addresses and payload data packets which contained data such as emails or web page content being viewed.
“The independent audit of the Google system shows that the system used for the Wi-Fi collection intentionally separated out unencrypted content (payload data) of communications and systematically wrote this data to hard drives,” said Simon Davis from Privacy International.
Davis said the action was equivalent to placing a hard-tap and a digital recorder onto a phone wire without consent or oauthorization.
The U.K.’s information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it knew of the and if it finds “evidence of significant wrongdoing, we will of course investigate and consider what action should be taken”.
“I don’t see any alternative but for us to go to Scotland Yard,” said David referring to the ICO’s reluctance to investigate.
Google said the error came after a piece of experimental code written in 2006 was included in the software used by Street View cars by mistake.
Davis says Google’s explanation “doesn’t add up”. “This is complex code and it must have been given a budget and been overseen. Google has asserted that all its projects are rigorously checked,” said Davies. “It goes to the heart of a systematic failure of management and of duty of care.”