* Company says entire emails, passwords and URLs captured
* Google says wants to delete data as soon as possible
* Privacy director to overseee engineering, products
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 22 Google Inc (GOOG.O)
acknowledged that a fleet of cars equipped with wireless
equipment inadvertently collected emails and passwords of
computer users in various countries, and said it was changing
its privacy practices.
Google said it wants delete the data as soon as possible.
Google announced the data collection snafu in May, but said at
the time the information it collected was typically limited to
"fragements" of data because the cars were always moving.
Since then, regulators in several of the more than 30
countries where the cars operated have inspected the data.
"It's clear from those inspections that while most of the
data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs
were captured, as well as passwords," said Google Vice
President of Engineering and Research Alan Eustace in a post on
Google's blog on Friday.
Google said it has appointed Alma Whitten as director of
privacy for engineering and product management, and that the
company was adding new internal procedures requiring
engineering product managers to maintain a privacy design
document that records how user data is handled.
Google also said it was enhancing its privacy training for
engineers and other important groups within the company.
Google's Street View cars, which are well known for
crisscrossing the globe and taking panoramic pictures of the
city's streets, collected the data. The company displays the
pictures in its online street maps.
Collecting the WiFi data was unrelated to the Google Maps
project, and was done so Google could amass data on WiFi
hotspots that could help provide location-based services.
Google said collecting the additional data was a mistake
resulting from a piece of computer code from an experimental
project that was accidentally included.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic. Editing by Robert MacMillan)