Google amassed e-mails, chats: Police
The National Police Agency’s cybercrime unit yesterday said they found evidence that Google illegally collected private data while producing its Street View mapping service.
Last August, police confiscated 79 hard disks at Google’s Seoul office in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul. After decoding passwords on the disks, which took several months, “We discovered e-mails and online chats individuals exchanged through [unencrypted] Wi-Fi networks,” said a police official.
The police said they have been investigating 10 Google employees in Korea and in the United States. Similar investigations are taking place in 16 other countries, including the U.S., Canada, Spain, Australia and Germany.
Korea is the first to have found evidence, police said.
Google Street View is a popular feature that offers panoramic views of street scenes in many cities around the world.
Google started collecting street images in Korea since October 2009 by using SUVs equipped with nine cameras.
The photographing did not violate law, but critics have argued that the search engine company does not pay enough attention to privacy issues when it collects mapping data.
“Personnel at Google headquarters who gave the instructions to collect data will be subject to penalty,” police said.
By Song Ji-hye [firstname.lastname@example.org]