Google privacy violation causes concern in Hong Kong, Macao

15:22, May 19, 2010      

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Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government is paying close attention to Google after they mistakenly collected data from Wi-Fi networks when gathering photos and images for their Street View Project in Hong Kong, said Roderick B. Woo, Hong Kong's privacy commissioner for personal data, on May 17.

Woo said that Google did not inform Hong Kong residents that aside from Hong Kong's street views, its Street View cars would also collect other Wi-Fi data, which possibly included personal information such as email messages. He was shocked at the fact that Google has gone so far to damage the public's trust in the company.

Woo has requested Google to ensure their Street View cars will no longer make such violations and urged them to evaluate its business operations and strictly comply with and respect local policies relating to personal data privacy rights.

Woo added that he has already initiated a compliance check against Google and contacted many overseas institutions with which he has maintained close links for joint investigations and sanctions.

In regards to Google's improper collection of data from Wi-Fi networks when taking photos and images for its Street View Project, the Office for Personal Data Protection under the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government said on May 18, that the local government was highly concerned about the violation and has submitted a letter to Google asking for explanations.

The office said in a statement that as Google has not established a branch or representative office in Macao, the local government sent the letter to Google's Hong Kong branch demanding the company to explain the violation. Meanwhile, the office has contacted its counterpart in Hong Kong and expressed support for Hong Kong's stance regarding the violation.

Woo said on May 18 that Google has promised to turn in the personal data it wrongfully gathered so as to ensure that such violations will no longer occur.

After meeting with the government affairs director for Google's Asia Pacific operations, Woo said Google has agreed in principle to temporarily stop operations of vehicles for photo shooting in Hong Kong for its Street View Project, hand over the personal data it previously collected for review and delete all data under his request.

Woo added that Google also promised to review its internal operations and entrust third parties to evaluate its software before resuming the operations of their Street View cars in an attempt not to collect personal data when carrying out its Street View Project.

By People's Daily Online


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