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8/10/2010
05:27 PM
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Police Raid Google's South Korea Office

Investigators are seeking information about the unauthorized WiFi data collection that Google acknowledged in May.

Agents of the Korean National Police Agency have raided Google's office in Seoul seeking information about Google's collection of WiFi data using its Street View image acquisition cars.

"We can confirm that the police have visited Google Korea in conjunction with their investigation around data collection by Street View cars," a Google spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. "We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have."

Investigators from the Cyber Terror Center of the Korean National Police Agency seized computer hard drives and papers from Google's office in Seoul, the Korea Herald reported.

The Korea Communications Commission said in June that had requested information about Google's WiFi data collection in May.

It was in May that Google revealed it had inadvertently been capturing unprotected WiFi data through its Street View cars.

Alan Eustace, SVP of research and engineering for the company, explained that Google's Street View software had unintentionally included experimental code written by a Google engineer in 2006 that grabbed unencrypted WiFi network data.

This represented a reversal of a previous assertion the company's Street View cars had collected only publicly broadcast WiFi network names and MAC addresses from WiFi routers.

The disclosure, which Google executives have acknowledged was a serious mistake, has prompted a flood of litigation against the company, and scrutiny from the U.S. and foreign governments.

In the U.S., Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is overseeing a multi-state investigation of Google's WiFi data collection practices.

Canada's privacy commissioner launched an investigation in June. Elsewhere, investigations are ongoing in France, Germany, Spain, and other countries, as documented by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Despite the investigation in Germany, Google on Tuesday said in its German blog that it plans to introduce Street View in Germany's 20 largest cities by the end of the year.

Street View is currently available in 23 different countries.

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