Google today admitted that for more than 3 years, it inadvertently collected bits of private data people sent over unencrypted wireless networks. The confession comes a month after European regulators began asking Google what data Google collects as its camera-laden Street View cars cruise city and neighborhood streets, and what the search giant does with that data.
Two weeks ago, Google tried to address the questions and criticism in a blog post. It admitted to collecting certain kinds of data around the world that identify Wi-Fi networks in order to help improve its mapping products. But the company explicitly said it did not collect or store so-called "payload data" – the actual information being transmitted by users over unprotected networks.
But Google is now saying, in a late-night-Friday European-time confession that is sure to infuriate regulators and privacy advocates, that its previous claims were wrong.
Google Says It Inadvertently Collected Personal Data (NYT)
WiFi data collection: An update (Official Google Blog)