HONG KONG - Hong Kong's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data Roderick Woo said on Friday Google has agreed to erase all the Wi-Fi payload data collected in the city and the watchdog decided not to launch a formal investigation to the leading search engine.
Google should provide a third-party verification of such erasure, said Woo, who informed the leading search engine's Hong Kong headquarters on Friday the result of his compliance check on its collection of Wi-Fi payload data through its Street View car operation during the period from December 2008 to October 2009.
After the check launched in May, Woo decided not to carry out a formal investigation.
"Google has confirmed that its undertaking, to the extent that certain items therein have yet to be implemented, shall continue to be in force, which, in my view, indicates Google's commitment to comply with the requirements of the Ordinance (of Hong Kong)."
He noted that he was reasonably satisfied that the data do not contain any meaningful details that can directly identify any individual; Google had no intention to compile personal information through the Street View car operation in Hong Kong; and Google had not accessed or used any of the Wi-Fi payload data captured in Hong Kong through the operation.
Woo said, the incident has aroused global privacy concern and many overseas data protection authorities have looked into similar incidents in their own jurisdictions.
"To date, Hong Kong was the only privacy regulator which had successfully procured an Undertaking and an Affidavit from Google, " he added.
The search engine giant admitted last month that they had collected and recorded unencrypted Wi-Fi data when only locations of Wi-Fi should have been recorded for their intended location services. The Office then commenced a compliance check against Google from May 17.
Launched in 2007, Google Street View is a technology that provides views from various position along streets in the world. The data collected is used to improve Google's location-based services.