Awkward Conversations

European Regulators Are Apparently Not Happy With Google Right Now

Many feel misled on StreetView data snooping explanation.
jacob kohnstamm chairman European Regulators Are Apparently Not Happy With Google Right Now

Mr. Kohnstamm (ec.europa.eu)

The FCC might have let the company off with just a $25,000 noncompliance fine, but it doesn’t look like Google’s StreetView troubles are over just yet. The agency’s final report found that, no, the unsecured Wifi data grab wasn’t actually the rogue act of some out-of-control engineer. The supposed lone gunman was open with at least one senior manager about what he was doing–there just wasn’t interest in either stopping or encouraging his behavior.

This new gloss on the matter has European regulators reconsidering their initial leniency–and apparently they are none too pleased with Google.  All but two investigations (both German) were closed when the company ascribed blame to a single out-of-line engineer, and now, according to Jacob Kohnstamm, who is the chair of the E.U.’s data privacy working group, they feel misled. “We certainly will discuss the matter” at an upcoming convention, he told the New York Times, adding, “My first reaction is, this is a bloody shame.”

He continued:

“Peter Fleischer made it pretty clear in his oral statement and in writing that it was the mistake of one single guy working at Google who had made a stupid mistake,” Mr. Kohnstamm said. “But apparently, it wasn’t a mistake at all.

“In a political sense,” Mr. Kohnstamm continued, “that would be considered contempt of Parliament and would mean the end of the career for the person responsible.”

But even if regulators don’t reopen their closed cases, the matter is likely to play into the ongoing European investigation into Google’s controversial updates to its privacy policy.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com