Google has apologized for keeping user data it said it destroyed, but that hasn't placated its critics. Back in 2010, the company had said it would destroy some information it had collected over wireless networks in the U.K. while making its street view maps. Today, Google admitted that it did not in fact delete all that information, reports The Telegraph's Matt Warmann, adding this small "sorry!" to the letter it sent the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office, which worked with Google to investigate the original privacy breach. "Google apologizes for this error," Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel wrote in the letter.
That little note didn't quite do it for the ICO, nor does it make Google look too apologetic, with the reaction to the news being of overall disappointment. Steve Eckersley the ICO head of enforcement said, "this should never have happened in the first place and the company’s failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern." Ireland's deputy commissioner for data protection, Gary Davis, said the same thing, but more harshly, calling Google's oversight "clearly unacceptable" while expressing "deep unhappiness," The Associated Press' Cassandra Vinograd and Raphael Satter note.
But more importantly, this misstep gives the ICO an opportunity to reexamine the data, which could make Google look worse, revealing the nature of the personal information Google collected. Google at first called the recording process a "simple mistake." But the nature of the information, made it look like Google obtained this information on purpose. "It therefore seems likely that such information was deliberately captured by GSV (Google Street View) operations conducted in the UK," ICO's Eckersley wrote back in June. Now that it hasn't destroyed all of it, as requested, it looks fishier. Google already lost some credibility when it came out that an engineer had built the system on purpose. But a new investigation will provide more details on the kind of stuff Google wanted to know about us.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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