Google Vows to Improve Data Handling, Okays ICO Audit in Its Privacy Practices

Bob Styran, IT audit expert
November 22, 2010 /

Google Inc. has signed an undertaking that states its commitment to improve the way it handles personal data following its inadvertent collection of payload data from Wi-Fi network for its Google Street Views. The search engine player has also allowed privacy watchdog Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to conduct an audit in its privacy practices.

Alan Eustace, Senior Vice President of Google, has signed the undertaking which commits Google to improve security measures and data protection concerns by putting up training for its employees. Google also vowed to require its engineers to keep up a document that contains privacy design which will be the basis for launching a new project. The company added that it would delete the personal data gathered through its Street Views vehicles, which included emails and passwords.

The ICO said it would conduct a full audit into the internal privacy practices of Google, its privacy training programs, and systems of reviewing privacy matters for new products, after it had cancelled pursuing to punish Google with £500,000 worth of fines. The audit will set out for a period of nine months.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham expressed gladness at Google’s willingness to cooperate with the ICO in improving the personal information management of the company. He said the occurrence of the payload data collection by Google Street Views was undesirable and that it must not happen again.

Graham promised to keep a close monitoring on the flow of the extensive audit to be conducted at Google.

It can be recalled that Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jenifer Stoddart actually revealed the addition of personal data to the information collected by Google Street Views vehicles. Stoddart has also influenced the revamp in the manner with which Facebook handles privacy.


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