Google Street View Cars Hit the UK Again

Google has reinstated its Street View cars in the UK.

The search-engine suspended the cars, which travel round the country taking photographs for use in the Google Maps add-on Street View, in May after the German data protection authority discovered Google had accidentally collected data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

As well as collecting SSID information (the network's name) and MAC addresses (the number given to Wi-Fi devices such as a router), Google had also been collecting payload data such as e-mail or web page content being viewed.

Google said the error occurred after a piece of code written in 2006 was included in the software used by its Street View cars.

Privacy campaigners criticized the search engine and complained to the Metropolitan Police, which resulted in an investigation by the Met into the incident.

The ICO also probed the search engine's activity but revealed last month it had cleared Google of any wrongdoing as the data did not include "any meaningful personal details."

At the beginning of July, the Street View cars were re-instated initially in Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Sweden.

"As soon as we discovered our error, we not only stopped collecting Wi-Fi data entirely, but also grounded our fleet of cars globally to give us time to remove the Wi-Fi scanning equipment and discuss what had happened with local regulators," Google said in a blog.

"We have decided to start Street View driving again. Our cars will no longer collect any Wi-Fi information at all, but will continue to collect photos and 3D imagery as they did before."

A list of areas the Google Street View Cars will be photographing can be found on Google's dedicated web page.

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