Google Streetview

P. John made this Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner's Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

concerning the controversy surround the use of Google Streetview vehicles to accumulate unencrypted wireless communications data... I understand that the ICO take the matter "seriously", yet will not act.

In the UK, while encrypting communications is advisable to protect against criminal interception, it is not a prerequisite for private/confidential communication.

Please will you disclose to me;

- any correspondence between the ICO and Google concerning the unauthorised capture and retention of unencrypted wireless communications data
- any analysis/report prepared by the ICO concerning the use of Google Streetview vehicles to gather unencrypted personal/commercial communications data
- any enforcement action taken against Google, particularly with respect to the Data Protection Act, Privacy in Electronic Communications Regulations, and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- any assessment of the legality of retaining confidential (and potentially sensitive) personal/commercial communication data gathered without the consent of the data subject, or organisations that own it
- any assessment of the subject access rights that now apply to data gathered by Google Streetview vehicles

I understand from earlier correspondence with you that the ICO are 'not IT experts'. Please could you also disclose to me the applicable professional expertise of the person who conducted ICO analysis of Google Streetview?

Please could you also provide a brief update on the status/progress of the T-Mobile customer data case ('biggest of its kind'), the Argos credit card emails case, and the monitoring of the BT/Phorm surveillance outrage?

Yours faithfully,
P John

Information Commissioner's Office

Link: [1]File-List

18 May 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0313330

Dear P John

Request for Information

Thank you for your e-mail of 19 May 2010 in which you have made a request
for information to the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

Your request is being dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 under the reference number shown above.  We
will therefore respond to your request by 17 June 2010 which (allowing for
the May bank holiday) is 20 working days from the day after we received
your request.

If you wish to add further information to your case please reply to this
email, being careful not to amend the information in the ‘subject’
field. This will ensure that the information is added directly to your
case. However, please be aware that this is an automated process; the
information will not be read by a member of our staff until your case is
allocated to a request handler.

Yours sincerely

Helen Ward

Internal Compliance Officer

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

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1. file:///tmp/radF307B_files/filelist.xml

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

concerning my FoI request (http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/go...) it occurs to me there is no basis for Google to retain data that was

- obtained by intercepting wireless communications
- obtained without the consent of the subject or organisations with which they communicated
- is likely to contain sensitive personal communications content data
- therefore was not obtained fairly or processed lawfully according to the eight principles of the UK Data Protection Act

Please could you also disclose to me instructions given by ICO to Google, to delete the communications data they have obtained unfairly and unlawfully?

Note that Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google stated) "We will not delete [the collected data] until ordered to do so.” (*)

Yours faithfully,

P. John

(*) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk...

Information Commissioner's Office

Link: [1]File-List

3rd June 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0313330

Dear Mr John

Request for Information

Further to our acknowledgement of 19 May 2010, I can confirm receipt of
your follow up e-mail sent on 20 May 2010, in which you also asked us to
provide you with “… instructions given by ICO to Google, to delete the
communications data they have obtained unfairly and unlawfully…”.

This request will be dealt with alongside the other information you asked
for on 19 May, which also related to the issues arising from Google
Streetview.

I would also refer to your e-mail of 19 May in which you asked:

“Please could you also provide a brief update on the status/progress of
the T-Mobile customer data case (‘biggest of its kind’), the Argos
credit card e-mails case, and the monitoring of the BT/Phorm surveillance
outrage?”

Given that this is an enquiry about the status of these issues, rather
than a request for recorded information, we will deal with it as a
‘normal course of business’ matter rather than under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. 

I have therefore referred your queries to the relevant department and, in
accordance with our service standards in which we aim to provide a
considered response to all enquiries within 40 calendar days, you should
receive a response by 28 June 2010.  Unless we hear otherwise we will
respond to this query via the latest e-mail address given via the ‘What
Do They Know’ website.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann

Lead Internal Compliance Officer

Information Commissioner’s Office

01625 545894

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/rad9CE04_files/filelist.xml

Information Commissioner's Office

3 Attachments

Link: [1]File-List

17th June 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0313330

Dear Mr John

Request for Information

Further to our acknowledgement sent on 19 May 2010 we are now in a
position to provide you with an initial response to your request for
information also dated 19 May, and your follow up request of 20 May.

In your e-mails of 19 and 20 May you asked us to provide you with the
following information:

19 May 2010

Please will you disclose to me:

1. Any correspondence between the ICO and Google concerning the
unauthorised capture and retention of unencrypted wireless communications
data

2. Any analysis/report prepared by the ICO concerning the use of Google
Streetview vehicles to gather unencrypted personal/commercial
communications data

3. Any enforcement action taken against Google, particularly with
respect to the Data Protection Act, Privacy in Electronic Communications
Regulations and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights

4. Any assessment of the legality of retaining confidential (and
potentially sensitive) personal/commercial communication data gathered
without the consent of the data subject, or organisations that own it

5. Any assessment of the subject access rights that now apply to data
gathered by Google Streetview vehicles

6. Please could you also disclose to me the applicable professional
expertise of the person who conducted ICO analysis of Google Streetview?

20 May 2010

7. Please could you also disclose to me instructions given by ICO to
Google to delete the communications data they have obtained unfairly and
unlawfully?

We will deal with each numbered request above in turn.

Request 1

Unfortunately we are not yet in a position to provide you with copies of
any of the correspondence we have exchanged with Google concerning the
issues you have referred to.  We sincerely apologise for this delay,
which has been caused by a number of factors.  These include the recent
absence from the Office by most of the ICO staff involved in our previous
discussions with Google, which has meant that the Internal Compliance Team
have not been able to collate the necessary information and consult with
relevant colleagues as soon as we would have liked regarding the
disclosure to you of our correspondence with Google.  In addition, and in
accordance with the section 45 Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) Code
of Practice, it has also been necessary to consult with Google direct
regarding the disclosure by us, to you, of information they have provided
to the ICO during the course of our own initial enquires and consideration
of their actions.  This consultation is not yet complete.

Please be assured that we are dealing with this part of your request as a
priority, and we hope to be able to provide you with a full response in
the near future, hopefully by next Friday (25 June) at the latest.

Request 2

Please find attached two internal documents produced by the ICO titled
‘Summary – Google’s collection of Wi-Fi data’ (dated 28 April
2010) and ‘Comments on Google’s response of 6 May re their collection
of Wi-Fi data’ (dated 10 May 2010).  Due to the developments
surrounding the actions of Google these are no longer considered to be
current, however, no formal update document has been produced.  Neither
of these documents has been redacted in any way.

Please also find attached three internal e-mails, all dated 20 May 2010,
one from David Smith (Deputy Commissioner and Director of Data Protection)
to Shona Ritchie (International Officer), another from Shona Ritchie to
all other Data Protection Authorities (DPA’s), and the third from Phil
Jones (Assistant Commissioner) to David Smith referring to a conversation
he had with a representative of Google.  All three e-mails give an
indication of the ICO’s position at that time regarding Google’s
actions. 

You will note that the only redaction that has been made is to Phil
Jones’ e-mail, in which the name of the person he spoke to at Google has
been removed.  This has been redacted in accordance with section 40(2) of
the FOIA which, by virtue of section 40(3)(a)(i), allows a public
authority to withhold information from a response to a request under the
FOIA when the information requested is personal data relating to someone
other than the requestor, and its disclosure would contravene one of the
Data Protection principles.  We consider that in this instance the
representative of Google referred to within the e-mail would not
anticipate or expect their name to be disclosed outside the ICO. 
Therefore, we consider that such a disclosure would be unfair and in
breach of the first Data Protection principle which states that –
“Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully …”. 

Other than the content contained within our correspondence with Google,
which is still being considered for disclosure to you under Request 1
above, this is all the information we hold relating to our views on the
gathering of information by Google Streetview vehicles.

Request 3

We can confirm that no enforcement action has been taken against Google
under any of the pieces of legislation you have referred to regarding the
issues raised by Google’s collection of personal data.  Therefore, no
information is held which we are required to provide to in this respect.

Request 4

All the recorded information we hold which details the ICO’s own
assessment of the legality of Google retaining confidential communication
data is contained within the documentation already provided under Request
2.  Therefore, other than that already described under Request 2 above,
there is no additional information to provide to you.

Request 5

Although the issue of the subject access rights of those individuals’
whose personal data may have been captured via the Google Streetview
process have featured in recent internal discussions amongst ICO staff,
none of these discussions, or their outcomes, have been recorded. 
Therefore, there is no information held which we can provide to you in
response to this part of your request.

Request 6

No one from within the ICO has conducted a detailed technical analysis of
the processes involved in the capturing of information by Google. 
However we have considered the issues surrounding the capture and
subsequent publication of images of streets within the UK, and by
association the capture and publication of information relating to
individuals and vehicles appearing within those streets, in accordance
with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Therefore, there is no recorded information to provide to you in respect
of this part of your request.

Request 7

The specific instruction which was given by the ICO to Google is contained
in an e-mail from David Smith to a representative of Google dated 17 May
2010.  Whilst we are still considering the disclosure to you of this
e-mail in accordance with your request at 1) above, we can confirm that
the specific wording used by Mr Smith is as follows:

“In the circumstances there does not seem to be any reason to keep the
data concerned for evidential purposes.  Therefore, in line with the data
protection requirement that personal data should be held for no longer
than necessary, we would ask you to delete these data as soon as is
reasonably possible”.

Once again we apologise for the delay in providing you with a full
response to Request 1, but hope that you are satisfied with the
information we have been able to provide so far in response to Requests 2
to 7. 

However, if you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to request a
review of our decision or make a complaint about how your request has been
handled you should write to the Internal Compliance Team at the address
below or e-mail [2][email address]

Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40
working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such request
received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the
Commissioner.

If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your
request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right
of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint
handler under the legislation.  To make such an application, please write
to the Case Reception Team, at the address given or visit the
‘Complaints’ section of our website to make a Freedom of Information
Act or Environmental Information Regulations complaint online.

 

A copy of our review procedure is attached.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann

Lead Internal Compliance Officer

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Tel: 01625 545894

[3]www.ico.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/radC5664_files/filelist.xml
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Information Commissioner's Office

2 Attachments

Link: [1]File-List

25th June 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0313330

Dear Mr John

Request for Information

Further to my e-mail of last Thursday, 17 June, as promised please find
attached our response to the first part of your original request for
information to the ICO dated 19 May 2010.  Once again, please accept our
apologies for the delay in proving you with these final items of
information.

In the first part of your request you asked us to provide you with “…
any correspondence between the ICO and Google concerning the unauthorised
capture and retention of unencrypted wireless communications data.”.

Attached is a scanned copy of all the correspondence we held at the time
of your request which we have exchanged with Google relating to the
capture and retention of the information you are interested in.  The
specific items we have provided are:

+ 27 April – Google (Luc Delany) e-mail to ICO (Dave Evans) –
includes the attachment ‘Technical briefing note’
+ 5 May – ICO (Dave Evans) e-mail to Google (Luc Delany)
+ 6 May – Google (Luc Delany) e-mail to ICO (Dave Evans)
+ 14 May – Google (Sarah Hunter) e-mail to ICO (Christopher Graham)
+ 17 May – ICO (David Smith) e-mail to Google (Luc Delany)
+ 20 May – Google (Luc Delany) e-mail to ICO (David Smith)

The only information which we have redacted from the attached scanned
copies are the personal contact details of Luc Delany and Sarah Hunter of
Google.  This information has been redacted in accordance with Section
40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), by virtue of section
40(3)(a)(i), which allows a public authority to withhold information from
a response to a request under the FOIA when the information requested is
personal data relating to someone other than the requestor, and its
disclosure would contravene one of the Data Protection principles.

We consider that in this instance when Ms Hunter and Mr Delany contacted
the ICO about the issues raised by Google Streeview they would not have
anticipated or consented to their personal contact details being disclosed
to the public via an information request under the FOIA.  Therefore, we
consider that such a disclosure would be unfair and in breach of the first
Data Protection principle which states that – “Personal data shall be
processed fairly and lawfully …”. 

This now concludes our handling of your request for information received
on 19 May 2010.  As before, if you are dissatisfied with this response
and wish to request a review of our decision or make a complaint about how
your request has been handled you should write to the Internal Compliance
Team at the address below or e-mail
[2][email address]

Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40
working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such request
received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the
Commissioner.

If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your
request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right
of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint
handler under the legislation.  To make such an application, please write
to the Case Reception Team, at the address given or visit the
‘Complaints’ section of our website to make a Freedom of Information
Act or Environmental Information Regulations complaint online.

 

A further copy of our review procedure is attached.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann

Lead Internal Compliance Officer

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Tel: 01625 545894

[3]www.ico.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/radAA890_files/filelist.xml
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Information Commissioner's Office

Link: [1]File-List

25th June 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0313330

Dear Mr John

Enquiry re BT/Phorm

Further to my e-mail earlier today, I have been asked by my colleagues to
respond to your request of 19 May 2010 for an update on the
status/progress of the “… monitoring of the BT/Phorm surveillance
outrage?”.

As far as the ICO is aware the BT/Phorm trials have long since been
completed, and BT announced some time ago that they had no further plans
to roll out their use of Phorm technology commercially.  We understand
that no other UK internet service provider intends to deploy the Phorm
product either. 

We also understand that the UK government are liaising with the European
Commission about the legal situation arising from these trials on a more
general basis.

Therefore, as far as we are aware there is nothing further to monitor, and
we do not have any further comments to add to those which we have
previously made about BT/Phorm.

Our responses to your enquiries about Argos Credit Card and T-Mobile are
being dealt with by our Enforcement Division, and should be forthcoming in
the near future.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann

Lead Internal Compliance Officer

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Tel: 01625 545894

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/radC71FF_files/filelist.xml
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

many thanks.

Fascinating information, how extraordinary that Google would not simply delete the information immediately and unconditionally as requested.

And surprising to me, and I'm sure many others, that Google escape any kind of punishment for touring the country gathering personally and commercially sensitive communications information in secret. Even misleading the public and the ICO when asked to provide an account.

It looks remarkably like industrial espionage to me. Not unlike Phorm.

Yours faithfully,

P. John

Information Commissioner's Office

Link: [1]File-List

15th July 2010

Dear Mr John

Argos emails case

Argos reported the problem to the ICO and after considering the details
provided, the ICO made the decision not to take any further action in line
with our regulatory action policy

Yours sincerely

John Squire

Lead Case Officer

Enforcement

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/rad610C6_files/filelist.xml

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

Thankyou for the information about Argos. I look forward to receiving the same data for the T-Mobile case, as requested.

I am intrigued by the idea you have a "regulatory action policy". Is that published on your web site?

I don't recall many recent instances, if any, where any discernable regulatory action has been taken by the ICO. Certainly none against a private sector organisation of any significance. Despite some of the most appalling abuses of private, confidential, and personal data.

Yours faithfully,

P. John

new casework,

Thank you for emailing the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

If your email was a reply to an email we sent you it has now been attached
to your case and will be read when your correspondence is allocated to a
case officer.

If your case has already been allocated, the case officer will be in
contact when they have considered your email.
If your email was not a reply to an email from us it will be considered by
our Customer Service Team. We will respond to you as soon as possible or
within 30 calendar days.
If you need more help, please contact our Helpline on 08456 30 60 60 or
01625 545745 if you prefer to use a national rate number.

Yours sincerely

Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner's Office

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

just to add, while waiting for an update on the T-Mobile case, I have located a copy of your Regulatory Action Policy;

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...

I look forward to receiving an update on the T-Mobile case as requested.

Yours faithfully,

P. John

new casework,

Thank you for emailing the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

If your email was a reply to an email we sent you it has now been attached
to your case and will be read when your correspondence is allocated to a
case officer.

If your case has already been allocated, the case officer will be in
contact when they have considered your email.
If your email was not a reply to an email from us it will be considered by
our Customer Service Team. We will respond to you as soon as possible or
within 30 calendar days.
If you need more help, please contact our Helpline on 08456 30 60 60 or
01625 545745 if you prefer to use a national rate number.

Yours sincerely

Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner's Office

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

Information Commissioner's Office

Link: [1]File-List

15th July 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0313330

Dear Mr John

Enquiry to the ICO re T-Mobile

Further to our previous correspondence, as you requested we can now
provide you with an update on the T-Mobile situation.  Please accept my
apologies for the delay in our response.

I have been advised by my colleagues in the Investigations section of the
ICO’s Enforcement Division that two individuals, one current employee
and one ex-employee, have been charged with data protection offences in
relation to the unlawful obtaining and disclosing of customer’s personal
data,  They will both appear at Chester Crown Court on 22 July 2010.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann

Lead Internal Compliance Officer

Information Commissioner’s Office

01625 545894

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/rad0A493_files/filelist.xml

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