Google Korea Office Raided by Police for Telecommunications Privacy-Law Violation

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On Tuesday, 10 August, Seoul Police, Korea, raided Google’s Korea office to probe potential violation of the country’s telecommunications privacy-law, in the latest move by authorities around the world to ratchet up scrutiny of the Internet search giant’s privacy practices. It has been alleged that company is illicitly collecting sensitive personal information from wireless networks.

Investigators from the Cyber Terror Center of the National Police Agency confiscated computer hard disk drives and paper documents from the office. The local unit of Google Inc., operator of the world’s largest Web search service, is suspected of having collected the personal information of portal users from October to May through the Wi-Fi networks while establishing the Street View program, its photo map service.

In May, Google Korea reported to the Korea Communications Commission that it collected panoramic pictures for the map service but claimed that it had no intention of misusing the information. The global portal network has been involved in similar charges in other countries as well, according to the KCC.

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“Investigators in Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. also probed the potential personal information abuse by their local Google branch,” said the KCC spokesperson Tuesday.

“Google Korea has admitted their negligence over the case and made it clear that it was unintentional, so we are now seeking to verify their claim in further details.”

“After consultations with the government, we plan to destroy all the information collected. The scraps of information contain nothing meaningful to be used for any purpose,” a Google Korea executive was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.

She also added that the police raid came when KCC officials had already been scheduled to visit Google’s U.S. headquarters where the collected information is kept currently.

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