Google is “at risk of criminal prosecution” over its collection of unsecured wi-fi data as part of its Street View operation, a civil liberties group has warned.
The search giant has published an audit of the code used to collect wi-fi data, which it says was included in the Street View software by mistake, but which Privacy International claims “had intent to identify and store all unencrypted wi-fi content”.
“This analysis establishes that Google did, beyond reasonable doubt, have intent to systematically intercept and record the content of communications and thus places the company at risk of criminal prosecution in almost all the 30 jurisdictions in which the system was used,” PI said in a statement.
“This action by Google cannot be blamed on the alleged ‘single engineer’ who wrote the code. It goes to the heart of a systematic failure of management and of duty of care.”
According to The Guardian, Google is already under investigation by Australian authorities over privacy concerns, and has been asked by the French, German and Spanish governments to hand over the wi-fi data collected.