Google raided by Korea police in probe of Street View

By Jun Yang and Saeromi Shin
(c) 2010 Bloomberg News
Tuesday, August 10, 2010; 8:00 AM

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- South Korean police raided Google Inc.'s Seoul office as part of an investigation into possible breaches of privacy laws resulting from the company's collection of data for its Street View mapping service.

Law-enforcement officials confiscated materials from Google in a raid today and will ask the company to surrender all data that may have been collected illegally from late last year until May, the Korean National Police Agency said in a statement. Google said it will cooperate with the investigation.

The Korean authorities follow investigations in Europe and the U.S. over Google's data collection. The probes began after the company said in May that it had mistakenly gathered wireless Internet data while photographing residential streets worldwide.

"We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have," Google said in an e-mail.

Google, whose Street View service allow users to click on maps to see 360-degree views of roads, is entangled in regulatory disputes in several countries related to online searches, advertising and maps. The South Korean police said it began investigating Google after it learned that Google saved private data collected over wireless networks.

Hong Kong's privacy commissioner said last month the Internet company won't face a formal investigation in the city because the data collected didn't contain any "meaningful" information on individuals, echoing comments from the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office.

Australia's Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis said last month Google will consult with the regulator for any "significant" new products in Australia during the next three years after the company apologized for collecting personal information.

Still, the company has been sued in California over claims Google's Street View program violates federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

Google said on July 9 it would resume dispatching cars in Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Sweden to collect imagery for the Street View service after the company removed gear that scanned private information.

© 2010