Business Irish

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Google engages commissioner but still keeps sensitive information

Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Google has failed to explain adequately to the data protection authorities why it has not deleted sensitive data it collected illicitly from Irish businesses and households throughout Ireland during its 2009 sweep of the country for its Street View project.

The multinational caused controversy when it emerged that it had scanned commercially sensitive information from unsecured wi-fi networks which -- in the case of businesses -- could include customer lists, contacts lists, order lists and other sensitive computer held data. Google later said this data had been deleted.

In 2010 when Google's possession of the data came to the attention of the data protection commissioner, Google promised to wipe all of it and reported that it had done this, even going so far as providing corroboration from an independent third party to confirm the data had been deleted.

However, recently it emerged that Google had not deleted all the data as promised. Last month, Gary Davis, the deputy data protection commissioner, said he was both "shocked and surprised" at the revelation.

The DPC then gave the company until August 1 to provide an adequate explanation.

Google did reply to the commissioner's office on this date, but the data commissioner's office now says the explanation was not satisfactory.


"It failed to adequately answer our questions. We have since given Google until the end of the month to provide proper answers," a spokesperson for the commissioner's office said yesterday.

A UK-based spokesman for the company declined to reply when asked by the Irish Independent yesterday why Google had not answered the commissioner's questions properly, nor would he state when Google intended providing the satisfactory answers.

The company would not say when the data would be deleted and the spokesman would not confirm whether Google intended complying by the new August 31 deadline.

He would not comment on the notion that Google might be giving an impression that it somehow believed it was above answering to Ireland's authorities.

"The only thing we can say is that we have been committed right from the start to complying with the wishes of the office of the DPC in Ireland."

Google is in hot water with the data protection authorities in both the UK and France over similar infringements.

Irish Independent

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