Google Offices Raided In Street View Probe
South Korean police have raided the Seoul offices of Google as part of a probe into its Street View mapping service.
A camera from a Google Street View car, which can also identify wi-fi hotspots
According to a police official, a cyber crime unit is investigating Google Korea for possibly violating communications and privacy laws.
Detectives confiscated computers and hard drives for analysis, while company officials are due to be summoned.
Google’s suspected offences relate to the firm’s gathering of street level photographs ahead of its launch of Street View in South Korea.
“(The police) have been investigating Google Korea LLC on suspicion of unauthorised collection and storage of data on unspecified internet users from wi-fi networks,” the Korean National Police Agency said.
Google has previously admitted information transmitted through unsecured wi-fi networks was accidentally collected by its camera-equipped cars and stopped using them while it resolved the issue.
The Street View service, which allows users to navigate an area by clicking through interactive photographs, has been controversial worldwide.
Officials in Germany have been among the harshest critics, with one describing the images of streets and people on them, taken without permission, as “a million-fold violation of privacy rights”.
Ilse Aigner, who is the German consumer protection minister, called Google’s wi-fi data collection an “alarming incident”, which showed the firm lacked an understanding of the need for privacy.
The technology company has nevertheless reached an agreement with German authorities and will roll out the Street view maps for 20 cities by the end of the year.
Faces of individuals and vehicle licence plates will be blurred and people will also be able to request to have images of their homes removed.