Google says Street View cars picked up e-mails, passwords; ‘we failed badly’


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Google admitted Friday that the fleet of vehicles taking panoramic photographs for its Street View mapping service around the globe inadvertently collected e-mails and passwords of computer users on unsecured wireless networks in various countries.

Google pledged to strengthen its privacy controls and said it would improve training for engineers and other workers.


At the time that Google disclosed the breach in May, it said the information it collected was typically ‘fragments.’ But inspections showed that in some cases entire e-mails and passwords were captured.

Google said it did not intend to collect the data. It has faced probes from authorities in the U.S. and other countries.

‘We’re acutely aware that we failed badly here,’ Alan Eustace, Google vice president of engineering and research, said in a blog post.

Google said it would like to delete the data as soon as possible.

Google also said that it appointed Alma Whitten as director of privacy for engineering and product management, and that the company was adding new internal procedures that require engineering product managers to maintain a privacy design document that records how user data is handled.

-- Jessica Guynn