ICO faces fresh barrage over Google wi-fi affair

Darren Allan
Darren Allan -

The Information Commissioner’s Office has come under renewed flak for its handling of the Street View car wi-fi data collection affair.

The ICO initially cleared Google of any wrongdoing, then reversed its decision when it came to light through other investigations that the search company had collected whole passwords, URLs and emails. And not just meaningless fragments of data as the ICO’s original report concluded.

The latest blast to the ICO comes from Conservative MP Rob Halfon, who said he was frankly amazed when he discovered that the two people sent to investigate Google’s data sampling in the UK weren’t technical folk.

Halfon told the Guardian: “I find it astonishing that the Information Commissioner seemingly did not send technical people to investigate the Google breach of our private data.”

“The ICO seems more Keystone Cops than protector of our civil liberties. It is extraordinary that the ICO can spend £13m on PR over 10 years but can’t find the right resources to investigate breaches of our data protection.”

Apparently, the two staff in question were an assistant commissioner and a strategic liaison group manager (no, we haven’t a clue what one of those is, either). While they might have been up on the legalities of the situation, it would perhaps have been an idea to send someone more technically minded along with them.

Google has escaped a fine from the ICO over this affair, but is to have its data protection practices reviewed.

Comments in chronological order (1 comment)

  1. Carl Barron says:

    I have employed at least one so-called ‘Government IT Specialist’ who advertised his services for hire locally. Only to be amazed by his almost total lack of ‘Basic IT Skills’. Hence I have collated documented evidence to this affect by way of e-mails between parties.

    Perhaps we should be grateful that the Wi-Fi Security weaknesses was exposed by Street View’s Cars as this has brought this matter to the attention of so many people.

    Just think (if you are using Wi-Fi) as you are reading this comment your computer could be easily accessed from a car or a neighbor in your street and it could be downloading illegal material for which you could be fined or imprisoned depending on the content of the download.

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