Google chronology

How it all began: The Google WiFi chronology


27th April 2010 Following concerns raised by German authorities and in the press over possible use of Wi-Fi sniffing technology the Google corporate blog announces that Street View cars only collected Wi-Fi data related to SSID data (i.e. the network name) and MAC address (a unique number given to a device like a Wi-Fi router). The blog continued “Networks also send information to other computers that are using the network, called payload data, but Google does not collect or store payload data. googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.co.uk
5th May 2010 The Data Protection authority in Hamburg, Germany, asks Google to fully audit its Wi-Fi collection operations related to Street View.
14th May 2010 Google announces on its blog that the audit revealed that contrary to previous assertions “it’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) Wi-Fi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products.” The blog explained “Quite simply, it was a mistake. In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental Wi-Fi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast Wi-Fi data. A year later, when our mobile team started a project to collect basic Wi-Fi network data like SSID information and MAC addresses using Google’s Street View cars, they included that code in their software – although the project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data. googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/wifi-data-collection-update
14th May 2010 Privacy International immediately publishes a statement questioning Google’s assertion and asking how it was possible for code to be “mistakenly” included in the Street View operation. “How was it possible to integrate such code into software that was not specifically designed to manage such data? www.privacyinternational.org
14th May 2010 The Irish Data Protection authority orders Google to destroy all Wi-Fi data relating to capture within Ireland.
15th May 2010 Destruction of Irish data commences.ISEC_Letter.pdf
16th May 2010 Independent scrutineer confirms full destruction of Irish data, but not data relating to other countries.ISEC_Letter.pdf
17th May 2010 The UK Information Commissioner orders destruction of UK data and indicates that no further action or investigation will be instituted. www.guardian.co.uk
18th May 2010 Privacy International publishes an Open Letter to all EU privacy Commissioners warning that the Wi-Fi data could be needed as evidence for legal proceedings and requesting that authorities require the retention rather than the deletion of data. The letter condemned the Irish action, and stated “This action has the effect of removing any chance of further legal action or investigation. The Irish Commissioner was wrong to have issued such an instruction. The action could be seen as collusion to destroy evidence. www.privacyinternational.org
19th May 2010 The French, Czech, German and Spanish privacy authorities announce investigations into the Google Street View operations. www.cnil.fr   www.agpd.es
20th May 2010 Privacy International warns Google that it will bring a complaint to UK police on 22nd May in an effort to halt the deletion of data. www.ft.com
20th May 2010 Belgium authorities reverse their deletion order and demand that Google retain the Wi-Fi data
21st May 2010 Google issues press notice confirming that it will retain the data relating to Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
21st May 2010 Google halts deletion of Wi-Fi data, citing confusion. www.itpro.co.uk
26th May 2010 A bipartisan group of US Congressmen write to Google CEO Eric Schmidt expressing their concern about the legality of the Wi-Fi collection and demanding specific information. Google_Letter_Waxman_Barton_Markey.pdf
27th May 2010 The US Federal Trade Commission instructs Google not to destroy any documents relating to its Wi-Fi collection. www.latimesblogs.latimes.com
27th May 2010 Google misses deadline to hand over the data to German authorities for investigation and cites possible conflicts in law. www.nytimes.com
2nd June 2010 Amended complaint is filed in the US Federal Court documenting patents filed by Google relating to Wi-Fi sniffing and alleging intent by the company www.computerworld.com
4th June 2010 Google reverses its previous explanation of events by holding a “rogue” engineer responsible for the Wi-Fi collection www.theregister.co.uk
6th June 2010 The Australian Attorney General orders Federal Police to investigate Google for possible violation of communications privacy law.  www.bbc.co.uk/news
8th June 2010 Google publishes an update to its original blog post with a report on the analysis of the gsniffer/gslite/kismet software used in the Street View cars.