Google confirmed Tuesday that police visited its Seoul offices to seize information related to an investigation surrounding its Street View product. South Korea is the latest in a series of governments probing the company’s data collection methods.
Police were specifically looking for information surrounding how the Street View cars collect data. Law enforcement said that its seizures were related to the expected launch of the product later this year within the country. Officers with the Cyber Terror Center of the National Police Agency took hard drives and paper documents, the Korea Herald reported.
“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,” a spokesperson for the Korean Communications Commission told the paper.
While the cars were supposed to only be taking panoramic pictures to aid in its Google Maps navigation product, Google disclosed in May that it may have also accidentally collected personal information from unsecured wireless networks.
This was occurring due to a section of computer code placed in the Street View car’s data collection software. That code, written by a Google engineer in 2006, was capable of snooping on unencrypted wireless packets.
Google had originally maintained that its data collection methods only grabbed Wi-Fi network names and MAC addresses. It since has admitted the error was a serious mistake, but that apology was not enough to stop both private and public litigation against the company.
It isn’t exactly clear what the code may have made it possible for Google to see, although Google points to a UK investigation which concluded that no “meaningful personal information” could have been disclosed as a result.
At least two dozen countries have now launched official inquiries into Street View, with Austria and Greece banning Street View pending further investigation. Currently, Street View is live in 23 countries according to Google.