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Google cars will not collect personal data

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2011, 12:00am


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Only photos and 3D images were being taken when Google Street View cars resumed roaming the city yesterday, the company said, eight months after the process was suspended amid controversy over collection of personal data broadcast on unencrypted WiFi networks.

All WiFi data collection equipment had been removed from Google's cars worldwide, which would work under the protocol of an independent security company called Stroz Friedberg, the search engine giant said.

'Street View cars will take to the roads of Hong Kong again this week, taking pictures of your favourite areas - and also some unexpected locations,' a spokesman said.

The cars were halted in May when it was discovered that they had sent personal data over unencrypted WiFi networks when recording views of cities in more than 30 countries, including Hong Kong, over the past four years.

The admission stirred a privacy crisis worldwide, leaving the company facing investigations and lawsuits in various countries including the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and Spain.

The company immediately made the data inaccessible.

In Hong Kong, Google promised in June that it would delete all the data mistakenly collected after handing it over to Roderick Woo Bun, then the privacy commissioner, to examine.

The commissioner did not elaborate on the kind of personal data Google had collected and from whom, but they might include e-mails and website browser histories.

Street View allows users to experience 360-degree street-level views of more than 200 cities through photos on Google Maps. It was launched in Hong Kong in March.