GOOGLE CRIMINALLY CHARGED FOR ILLEGALLY COLLECTING PRIVATE INFORMATION
Jim Kouri, CPP
January 15, 2011
South Korean cops filed charges against Google Inc. for allegedly collecting information on private citizen thereby breaking Internet privacy laws South Korea, according to a press statement released by the Seoul Police Department.
Google's Seoul office had been raided by police in August 2010 on suspicion of illegally collecting personal information in preparing the local version of its "Street View" mapping services.
According to the police officials, Google used vehicles equipped with special video recorders for taping streets and landscapes throughout South Korea between October 2009 and May 2010. Police suspected that these video recorders and other equipment gathered private data about Korean citizens.
The Cyber Terror Response Center, the Internet investigation unit at South Korea's National Police Agency, said that after a months-long investigation they discovered proof that Google's mapping division illegally obtained and stored e-mails, instant messages, Internet site identification passwords, banking and credit data and other personal information of more than a half-million people in Seoul, Busan and Inchon as well rural areas.
According to police officials in a statement, Google's activities, while legal in many parts of the world, violated South Korea's laws regarding information and communication, Internet privacy, and protection of private location information.
The police officers confiscated more than 200 hard drives and verified the information of hundreds of thousands of people, while investigating about 10 Google corporate executives, according to the National Police Agency report obtained by the US's National Association of Chiefs of Police.
In response to police allegations, Google executives in South Korea admitted the company collected individuals' private information. However, they claimed it was unintentional and Google stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data as soon as they became aware of the problem.
Google also claimed the collected information was never misused or abused by the Internet giant. Google officials announced that they have been cooperating with the Korean Communications Commission and the police throughout the intricate investigation and will work to correct any abuses discovered during that investigation.
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Google has been providing Street View service, which allows users to view panoramic street scenes on its digital photomaps, in several countries such as the United States, Germany, Australia and Canada, and it has also been accused of similar charges in those countries.
© 2011 Jim Kouri- All Rights Reserved