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Google's data collection harmless, Britain says

Authorities agree that information captured by Google's Street View fleet is fragmentary and can't be linked to identifiable people. The Internet giant faces similar scrutiny in the U.S.

July 31, 2010|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

In the United States, Google Inc. is defending itself against lawsuits, a congressional probe and a 37-state investigation over personal information the Internet giant collected from unsecured wireless networks while assembling photos and data for its Street View mapping service.

But Great Britain's data protection watchdog says that its review of the information collected by Google found that it included only fragments and no "meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person."

"There is also no evidence as yet that the data captured by Google has caused or could cause any individual detriment," according to the statement Thursday.

That was the point that Google made to Congress last month, that it believed its mapping vehicles had captured only fragments of data.

Google has apologized for collecting the data and said it had not done anything illegal.

British authorities did say they had no knowledge of the information Google collected from unsecured wireless networks in more than 30 countries.

Google parked its Street View fleet after disclosing in May that it had gathered snippets of information by mistake. Some vehicles are now back on the road, minus the wireless scanning equipment.

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