Last week, Google enraged German authorities by disregarding a deadline for submitting unauthorized Wi-Fi data it had amassed while collecting images for its Street View service. The company excused itself by saying that there were possible legal ramifications of such a handover that it needed to review, forcing the Hamburg data protection supervisor Johannes Caspar to hint at a criminal investigation against it.
Google has concluded its internal review of the situation and decided to do the right thing, which is to avoid further controversy by placating data protection watchdogs around the world. Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the Financial Times that it will be handing over the private Wi-Fi data to European regulators within the coming two days. The relevant authorities in Germany, France, Spain and Italy will be the first to receive the data .
“We screwed up. Let’s be very clear about that,” Mr Schmidt told the Financial Times. “If you are honest about your mistakes it is the best defence for it not happening again.” According to Schmidt, disciplinary action is currently underway against the software engineer who wrote the meddlesome code.