Google admits Street View cars collected e-mails, passwords

After analyzing the unencrypted WiFi payload data captured by its Street View cars, Google now admits that the system captured entire e-mails, URLs and even user passwords.

After analyzing the unencrypted WiFi payload data captured by its Street View cars, Google now admits that the system captured entire e-mails, URLs and even user passwords.

The admission came in the form of a blog post by Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research at Google:

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It’s clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords. We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place.

"We’re acutely aware that we failed badly here," Eustace added.

Eustace said the company was "mortified" by the discovery that sensitive information was collected when the Street View cars drove through neighborhoods around the world and said Google was making major changes internally to deal with user privacy, security and compliance.

Google had previously admitted to spying on users' WiFi networks and collecting MAC addresses and SSID information.  Some of the data has already been deleted and Eustace said Google will delete the rest of the data "as soon as possible."

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