Privacy Watchdog Blasts Google

HONG KONG, May 26 (Kyodo) — Hong Kong's privacy commissioner for personal data said Wednesday he is "dismayed" at Google Inc.'s neglectful behavior after admitting it had "mistakenly" collected personal data when taking street photographs around the world.

"I am dismayed by Google's apparent lack of sincerity in its handling of this matter," Roderick Woo said in a statement. "I am particularly dissatisfied with the current status. I do not see that Google is taking the matter seriously enough."

The statement said that even though the search engine giant has admitted its wrongdoing, they still have not yet signed an agreement to stop taking photographs until the company's internal review has been concluded and to hand over personal data collected to the commissioner.

"Unless some remedial measures are taken by Google promptly, I shall have to consider escalating the situation and resort to more assertive action," Woo said, without elaborating on his options.

Last week, Woo said Google has agreed to delete certain personal data collected without consent when the company's street view cars were taking photographs in Hong Kong in the past three years.

In the company's blog, Google admitted Monday last week that it has collected wifi data including the more sensitive payload data from unsecured wifi networks "mistakenly" while taking street photos for its mapping service.

"We failed badly here. We are profoundly sorry for this error," Alan Eustace, Google's engineering and research senior vice president, said in the blog statement addressed to data collection authorities in all countries.

Google insisted it has not used the payload data collected in any of its products.