WASHINGTON: Google says it will no longer collect WiFi network information for its Street View mapping after "mistakenly" gathering personal wireless data.
"Maintaining people's trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short," Alan Eustace, a Google senior vice-president, said in a blog post.
Although Google had stated previously it did not collect personal data, "it's now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (ie non-password-protected) WiFi networks," Eustace said.
He said Google discovered that personal wireless data had been collected following a request for information from Germany's Data Protection Authority, where Street View has been under attack from privacy advocates.
Eustace said the company was taking steps to delete the data collected by the cars which carry out the photography used on Google Maps.
"We... are currently reaching out to regulators in the relevant countries about how to quickly dispose of it," he said. "We have decided that it's best to stop our Street View cars collecting WiFi network data entirely," he added.
Eustace said "we never used that data in any Google products".
"We are profoundly sorry for this error."