Spain’s jumped on the Google-suing bandwagon, launching an investigation around the search engine’s Street Views mapping service. Judge Raquel Fernandino has ordered a Google representative to appear in court early October, in regards to a suit filed by The Spanish association of Internet users (Apedanica).
The suit accuses Google of unlawfully collecting Wi-Fi payload data, including email text fragments and unencrypted passwords, and demands that Google hand over the original hard drives containing the data. Google maintains the data collection was a result of a programming error, and will work with Spanish authorities. From The New York Times,
A spokeswoman for Google Spain, Mariso Toro, said Tuesday that the company planned to cooperate fully with the judge and other Spanish authorities to resolve the privacy concerns. “We are dedicating a lot of our time to finding a solution so that users can be at ease,” Ms. Toro said.
Google introduced Street View in Spain three years ago, and Ms. Toro said that it had proved “very popular.” Plans to expand the coverage in Spain have been put on hold pending an outcome in the data collection dispute.
This investigation is the latest in a string of legal battles brought against Google’s Street Views project, which has been mounting in Germany, and reached new heights with a recent office raid by South Korean officials. Spain was already amongst several European countries concerned with Google’s illegal collection of data, while other countries, including the U.S., also bring their issues to the courtroom.
As Google looks to extend its mobile platform and the services around its countless applications, ensuring consumer safety and consideration will be an important part of the company’s ability to move forward. With social networking bringing light to security issues and compromises around consumer data, it’s even more important for Google to present a resolution to legal entities in particular.
Even as concerns rise in Germany, South Korea and Spain, the UK has already cleared Google of Wi-Fi snooping charges, and Google has resumed its Street Views mapping initiatives there. Nevertheless, Microsoft should heed Google’s current legal woes as it rolls out its own local mapping services, Street Slide. Microsoft Bing is making large strides towards competing with Google Street Views, adding layers for more localized search tools.