Google inadvertently collected personal data from open WiFi hotspots. Then it inadvertently stored it. Now it's inadvertently refusing to surrender it to regulators. Privacy laws, it suggests, make it illegal to hand over data on those whose privacy it breached–if nothing else, this would seem an admission that the data was specific and personal enough to fall under the relevant statutes.
"As granting access to payload data creates legal challenges in Germany, which we need to review, we are continuing to discuss the appropriate legal and logistical process for making the data available," Peter Barron, a Google spokesman in London, said, in a statement. "We hope, given more time, to be able to resolve this difficult issue."
It's never the dump, it's always the evasive maneuvers that follow it. I wonder if corporate crisis management's biggest failure is that it values liability over reputation: lawyers red-penning the PR people, that sort of thing. Consider, for example, British Petroleum. One suspects that a clever PR operation from the first moment something went wrong could have made them into heroes when they cap this thing. But there's not even the chance of that, now: everything it's said and done since the disaster is so conniving and alienating that no-one could ever be fooled. Whatever they say, it sounds a bit like "We will do anything at all to minimize our legal exposure now, even at the ruin of our credibility forever."