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Google cleared of grabbing personal data

Internet giant Google "did not grab" personal details but it happened "accidentally" when it was collecting data from wi-fi networks, Britain's top information office has said.

world Updated: Jul 30, 2010 11:24 IST

Internet giant Google "did not grab" personal details but it happened "accidentally" when it was collecting data from wi-fi networks, Britain's top information office has said.

The Information Commissioner Office (ICO) reviewed some of the data Google collected from unsecured networks and came to the conclusion that Google "mistakenly" gathered them while logging on to wi-fi to help with location-based services, the BBC reported.

News about gathering personal data by the search engine came to light following a request by data protection authorities in Hamburg, Germany, for more information on Google's Street View technology which adds images of locations to maps.

It was found out that Google had "accidentally" grabbed data from unsecured networks for years as its "Street View" cars captured images of street scenes.

This led to many countries' data protection authorities to press Google for access to the data it "grabbed" to see if laws protecting personal information were broken.

The ICO said: "On the basis of the samples we saw, we are satisfied so far that it is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data."

"There is also no evidence - as yet - that the data captured by Google has caused or could cause any individual detriment," it said.

Google was, however, "wrong" to gather the information, the ICO said.

Responding to the statement, Google said: "As we said when we announced our mistake, we did not want and have never used any payload data in our products or services."

Google has apologised for gathering the data and has now stopped collecting information on wi-fi networks.

It is, however, still under investigation in France, Spain, Germany and Australia.