UK goes easy on Google’s privacy breach, only wants its data deleted

UK Google MapsOne down, a few more to go. Google is trying to right its wrongs with European consumers and took one step in the right direction today when the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office deemed it acceptable for the Internet giant to delete the information it collected via its Street View cars.

Earlier this year, Google revealed its Street View cars had picked up entire emails, URLs, and passwords transmitted over Wi-Fi connections in worldwide locations. Since admitting its accidental snooping, Google has experienced serious backlash, particularly from European counties.

The UK’s deputy information commissioner David Smith admitted to the BBC that “We spent less time searching than others did. If we had searched for days and days we would have found more.” Still, it seems like all involved parties are happy to put the incident behind them.

While the UK admittedly ran a very basic investigation, Ireland simply demanded Google destroy the information it harvested immediately. Other nations have been more difficult to pacify – for instance, Spain is taking legal action and approximately 240,000 Germans have opted out of Google’s Street View display, requiring Google to blur images.

In addition to deleting the data it collected, Google will be subject to an arranged audit with the UK’s ICO later this year. Really, Google is getting off the hook this time, seeing as the ICO has the ability to fine companies that infringe on its policy upwards of $700,000. But over 30 countries were affected by the unintended privacy breach, so Google isn’t in the clear quite yet.