Google illegally gathered data in S Korea: police

South Korean police have found evidence that Internet giant Google illegally collected private data while producing its Street View mapping service, a report said Thursday.

Yonhap news agency said the police’s cyber crime unit has decoded data stored on hard disks used for Google Street View and found evidence of illegally gathered private information.

“We’ve discovered records and contents of e-mails and online messenger chats individuals exchanged through Wi-Fi networks,” said a police official quoted by Yonhap.

Around 10 Google employees in South Korea and the US said during the probe that they had no knowledge of what had been collected, the report said. 

A police agency spokesman confirmed the report but refused to give details.

A spokeswoman for Google in Seoul declined to comment.

The police investigation echoes those in the United States, Germany and Italy and comes after Google admitted its Street View cars, which have been cruising and taking photographs of cities in over 30 countries, had inadvertently gathered fragments of personal data sent over unsecured Wi-Fi systems.

Street View allows users to see panoramic street scenes on Google Maps.

Google agreed last November to delete private emails and passwords mistakenly picked up from wireless networks in Britain by its Street View cars.

It has also agreed to improve the way it trains staff on data protection issues as it seeks to manage a global row over the cars.

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