Labour MEP calls for investigation into Google

30.05.2012 - 11:29

Three months ago Google launched its new privacy policy despite public anger that it was not compatible with EU privacy laws. Now, a Labour MEP is calling for an inquiry after allegations that Google's 'Street View' cars secretly harvested emails, photographs and other personal data from WiFi networks.

Despite the report filed by the Federal Communications Commission in the United States, there has not been a UK investigation on this issue. "The collection of WiFi data without the knowledge or consent of UK citizens is a clear breach of their fundamental right to privacy," said Claude Moraes, MEP who sits on the European Parliament's Civil Liberties committee and speaks for the Labour MEPs.

The Google software intercepted snippets of information from unsecured WiFi networks as the Street View fleet passed almost every home in Britain in 2009 and 2010. It is thought that as many as one in four home networks is unsecured.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) wants to reopen the investigation and an engineer has created a war driving programme called NetStumbler for Windows, that will travell around accessing wireless hot spots. The ICO plans to study the Federal Communications Commission's  findings and will decide if further action is necessary.

Claude Moraes said that "if people are giving up their privacy, it should be done in full knowledge and with their full authorisation.” “These are serious allegations so I am calling for an immediate and thorough independent investigation firstly to ensure that private data has not been used and secondly to be certain that this practice has permanently ended," he concluded.

Google is being sentenced by many political and privacy groups. France’s Commission Nationale de L’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) , claimed  on 22 May that the giant's explanation of its privacy policy is "insufficient" and it demanded for more details.

CNIL considers it impossible to know Google’s processings of personal data, as well as the links between collected data, purposes and recipients, and that the obligation of information of the data subjects is not respected,” the officials said in a statement.