M A I N   N E W S

Google spied on emails, passwords in Britain

London, October 24
In what could be called a major security breach, Internet search engine Google has admitted spying on computer passwords and entire emails from households across Britain. The California-based company has, however, apologised for downloading personal data from wireless networks when its fleet vehicles drove down residential roads taking photos for its Street View project, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

“It’s clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs (web addresses) were captured, as well as passwords. We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would like to apologise again for the fact that we collected it in the first place,” Alan Eustace, Google’s vice-president of engineering and research, was quoted as saying.

Millions of Internet users have potentially been affected. The Information Commissioner’s Office, the privacy watchdog, said it would be looking into Google’s admission.Vehicle-mounted panoramic cameras starting in 2008 gathered images for Street View. In May this year, Google confessed the vehicles had also been gathering information about the location of wireless networks, the devices, which connect computers to the tele- communications network via radio waves. Street View allows Internet users to examine photos of street scenes and view close-up images of almost every property. It has attracted controversy from the moment it was launched in Britain in March last year.

Street View pictures were taken in the UK, the US, Germany and other countries. Google archived all the material it had gathered, which included emails being sent by private individuals, the web pages they were viewing and passwords they may have entered as the Street View vehicle passed their homes. It is believed that only wireless networks that were not password-protected were affected, the newspaper said.

Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, said: “It’s absolutely scandalous that this situation has developed and so many people have had their communications intercepted.

“The company must launch a full inquiry and produce a public report on exactly what happened, as well as release the audit it has already undertaken. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered about how and why it did this.” Privacy International lodged a complaint with Scotland Yard earlier this year about Google’s Street View activities and officers are considering whether a crime’s committed. — PTI





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |