An investigation conducted by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and revealed by Google, shows that the Google engineer who wrote a program that snooped on exposed wi-fi networks told two or more colleagues.
Google made the 25-page report public after it was found that private data was gathered between May 2007 and May 2010. A redacted version of the report can be read here.
The claims that Google collected private data first arose in 2010, when the specially equipped cars were creating maps for the Street View service.
Google spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said in a statement emailed to The LA Times."We decided to voluntarily make the entire document available except for the names of individuals. While we disagree with some of the statements made in the document, we agree with the FCC's conclusion that we did not break the law. We hope that we can now put this matter behind us."
At the time, Alan Eustace, Google senior vice president of research and engineering, wrote in his blog: "It’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open...WiFi networks."
"So how did this happen? Quite simply, it was a mistake," he wrote at the time.
Google was fined $25,000 by the FCC for obstructing the investigation.
An FCC order dated 13 April read: "Google refused to identify any employees or produce any emails. The company could not supply compliant declarations without identifying employees it preferred not to identify."
Google was contacted for comment on this development, which was not received at the time of publication.
Check out the amazing Google Street View project The Nine Eyes below.