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Google faces inquiry over data collection

Korean regulators are investigating whether Google collected sensitive private information from wireless networks, officials said Tuesday.

The Korea Communications Commission said Google Korea last month reported its collection of personal information to the panel.

“We requested additional data (in late May) and we will go forward with internal reviews once we receive it,” a KCC official said.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt talks about Google TV at the Google conference in San Francisco, May 20.(AP-Yonhap News)
Google CEO Eric Schmidt talks about Google TV at the Google conference in San Francisco, May 20.(AP-Yonhap News)

Google Korea said the collection of personal information was not done intentionally. It was currently waiting for the Korean government’s answer on how to deal with the situation according to Korean law.

“We reported the details to the government as soon as we learned of it,” said an official representing Google.

The search engine giant has acknowledged that it collected parts of personal information while preparing to service its Street View program here.

It has sent cars around the world for several years to take panoramic pictures used in its online atlas and the company started collecting images in Korea in October.

The global firm said for the first time in April that its cars were collecting wireless data, but it denied accusations that personal information from Wi-Fi networks was involved in the activity.

Google has since flip-flopped on the issue following an audit request by Germany, forcing the company to admit last month that it had been mistakenly getting samples of “payload data.”

Since then, U.S. lawmakers have urged the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to look into the matter and suits have been filed in several states in the U.S. by people who accuse Google of violating their privacy.

Countries including Germany, Italy, Canada and Australia have demanded that government-level inquiries must be conducted for possible breaches of data-security laws.

A recent news report by the Financial Times said Google will turn over data its Street View cars accidentally collected over wireless networks to German, French and Spanish data protection authorities.

Vowing to publish an external audit of Street View procedures, the company was also planning to hold an internal investigation.

By Cho Ji-hyun  (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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