France probes Google over Street View

17th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

France's data protection agency said Thursday it was examining private data, including emails, collected by Google's "Street View", to decide if the firm should face criminal charges or other sanctions.

Passwords and extracts from emails are among the information currently being examined by the CNIL data protection agency, its chairman Alex Turk told reporters as he presented the agency's annual report.

Google sent the data to the CNIL on June 4 after the agency requested it, he said, adding that by September he hoped to be able to decide whether or not the Internet giant should face any sanctions.

The CNIL can issue a simple warning, impose a fine or can hand a case over to the prosecutor's office for it to decide whether criminal charges should be brought.

German prosecutors in May launched a probe into Google after it admitted to gathering personal data for Street View, which lets users view panoramic street scenes on Google Maps and "walk" through cities such as New York or Hong Kong.

The firm is facing civil suits in Oregon and several other US states demanding millions of dollars in damages over its collection of personal wireless data in alleged violation of local and federal privacy laws.

Google said last month it was halting the collection of WiFi network information after saying it mistakenly gathered personal data sent over unsecured systems.

It had insisted previously that it was only collecting WiFi network names and addresses with the Street View cars that have been cruising cities around the world taking photographs for the Google Maps service.

© 2010 AFP

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