Google signs commitment to improve data handling

Google has signed a commitment to improve data handling to ensure breaches like the collection of private Wi-Fi data by its Street View vehicles do not happen again, says information commissioner Christopher Graham.

Google has signed a commitment to improve data handling to ensure breaches like the collection of private Wi-Fi data by its Street View vehicles do not happen again, says information commissioner Christopher Graham.

Alan Eustace, senior vice-president of Google, signed the undertaking, which commits the company to improved training measures on security awareness and data protection issues for all employees.

The company has also said it will require its engineers to maintain a privacy design document for every new project before it is launched. The Wi-Fi data that Google collected in the UK will also be deleted.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will conduct a full audit of Google's internal privacy structure, privacy training programs and its system of privacy reviews for new products. The audit will take place within the next nine months.

Mr Graham said it was a significant achievement to have an undertaking from a major multinational corporation such as Google that extended to its global policies and not just its UK activities.

"We will be keeping a close watch on the progress Google makes and will follow up with an extensive audit. Meanwhile, I welcome the fact that the WiFi payload data that should never have been collected in the first place can, at last, be deleted," he said.

In August, the ICO cleared Google of a UK Wi-Fi privacy breach, as initial investigation showed only fragments of information had been collected.

But the information commissioner ordered a new inquiry into Google's collection of Wi-Fi data in October after Google admitted more detailed information had been captured.

Mr Graham said the ICO found the collection of this information was neither fair nor lawful. He said it constitutes a significant breach of the first principle of the Data Protection Act.

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