Google Inc. said that its herd of cars, accountable for clicking pictures of streets across the globe, has for many years mistakenly gathered personal information that according to a security specialist could include email messages and passwords, sent by consumers over wireless networks.
On Friday, the Company said that at present it is approaching watchdogs in the pertinent nations that comprise the United States, Germany, France, Brazil and Hong Kong in China, about how to discard the information, which Google said that it has never used.
Google Senior VP of Engineering and Research, Alan Eustace said in a post on Google's official blog on Friday, "It's now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open i. e. non-password-protected WiFi networks".
For Google, whose web search engine manages over two-thirds of all internet searches in the U. S., the snafu could deliver a discomfiting hit to its name as a reliable guardian of customers' personal info.
And the leak comes at a time of rising fear amongst customers and controllers concerning the way websites manage consumers' personal data.
Last month, four United States Senators sent a letter to Facebook, the world's biggest social networking site, voicing concern regarding recent amendments to the service and the corporation's privacy policies.