Google Facing UK Inquiry Over Stolen User Data

Oh, Google: The company that coined a simple and very meaningful catch phrase, “Don’t Be Evil”, has been showing the world that they either don’t care about sticking to that maxim or, at very least, they find it very hard. They’re currently up against an inquiry into allegations that they have intentionally harvested personal data from millions of UK citizens without their knowledge. The deed was apparently done with their Street View cars (the cars that drive around all over the planet and take photos at street-level to create a comprehensive real-world view of any place on the globe). The cars truck around cities and towns and take photos but also skim off local Wi-Fi networks and so on to download emails, text messages, photographs and documents of all kinds.

Google has fessed up to swiping this kind of personal data using their Street View cars, but claimed it was accidental. For some reason, authorities didn’t entirely believe them… and now, according to, they’re going to have to explain themselves.

The slow reaction of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to deal with the data theft is in direct contrast to the vigorous efforts of watchdogs in Germany, France and even the Czech Republic. The fact that the Government was at the same time courting executives at Google opens up uncomfortable questions about its relationship with the company.

Last month a report by the US media regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revealed that the Google programmer who wrote the Street View software repeatedly warned that it collected personal data, and called for a legal and privacy review. Yesterday he was named as Marius Milner, 41, a British software engineer from Hove, East Sussex, who now lives in California. He has pleaded the fifth amendment against self-incrimination and refused to answer investigators’ questions.

Kind of a mess on both sides of the argument, but it does beg the question: Where’s the US inquiry?


Corey has been been a tech journalist with a focus on Apple since 1998 and has written for The Loop, MacHome magazine, and as games contributor for The Mac Bible, and co-hosts the iGame Radio Podcast. He works as a… Full Bio