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05-31-2012, 12:55 AM #1
Google faces prosecution over internet privacy scandal
A recent investigation by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shows that company officials, for the last two years, had been aware that the Google’s Street View program is collecting people’s personal data.
The investigation followed claims about the discovery of a security hole in the program, but later revealed that the engineers developing the program had knowingly been collecting private information wirelessly.
FCC’s detailed report also shows that at least a small group of the company staff involved in Street View project was aware that the software has been gathering such information and that they even knew it had been designed to do so.
The scandal also revealed that the program enables Google to collect such personal information as text messages, emails, or bank accounts.
The commission’s report noted that the software had been originally designed to gather data and information.
One of the engineers involved in developing the software told FCC that “it was designed to collect this information in 2007 and again in 2008.”
Although Google refused to release the report at first, the company was threatened with legal prosecution if it failed to release the report.
Further investigation has shown that the Street View has been working despite the security hole from May 2007 to May 2010. Google officials had frequently claimed that they were not aware of the weakness in the program.
Although Google belatedly apologized for the breach, rights activists have asked the US legislature to arrange for an open trial of Google managers.
“Internet Privacy Watch” which is a nongovernmental organization defending the rights of internet users, argues that FCC report is less than adequate as the commission has been apparently trying to downplay the reality.
Marc Rotenberg, President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), has also noted that FCC is the main party to be blamed as it has taken the case quite lightly.
The FCC report has noted that for more than two years, Google's Street View collected names, addresses, telephone numbers, URLs, passwords, email, text messages, medical records, video and audio files, and other information from internet users in the United States....being a human...