Google continues to feel fallout from collecting WiFi payload data

Google is still experiencing the fallout associated with its revelation that it had been collecting payload data on open WiFi networks through its Google Street View program.

During the company's I/O conference in San Francisco, Google co-founder Sergey Brin simply said: "We screwed up ...  I'm not going to make any excuses about it."

The search giant has said, however, that it has never used any of the data in its Google products. The finding came after the data protection authority (DPA) in Hamburg, Germany asked Google to audit the WiFi data its Street View cars collect for use in its location products. Google said it has typically collected just fragments of payload data since its cars are on the move, someone would need to be using the network as a car passed by and Google's in-car equipment automatically changes channels about five times a second. 

Google has decided to stop its Street View cars from collecting WiFi network data altogether, but the company is encountering a host of complaints and possible government actions, including one from the Federal Trade Commission, when it comes to the Street View program, which powers Google's location products.

Brin also addressed criticism that Google's famously laid-back culture isn't designed to prevent problems such as this one. "First, we do have a lot of internal controls in place, but obviously, they didn't prevent this error from occurring. We are putting more internal controls in place," Brin said.

"Trust is very important to us, Brin said. "We're going to do everything we can to preserve that trust."

For more:
- see this Cnet article

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