By Jason Theodorou

Google was cleared of charges that it picked up the personal details of internet users when its Google Street View Cars accrued data sent over open wireless networks. Google 'mistakenly' gathered the information when logging wi-fi hotspots for one of its services.

The search giant was vindicated by the UK's Information Commissioner Office (ICO), who said that it had visited Google's premises to review samples of the information which it picked up with the cars. The alleged privacy breach came to light after data protection authorities in Hamburg, Germany asked for more information about the activities of Google's Street View cars.

A spokesman from the ICO said: 'On the basis of the samples we saw, we are satisfied so far that it is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data'. Google said in response that they 'welcomed' the news that the ICO had found the data to be free of any meaningful personal information, and they said that the data would play no part in their products or services.

Google has apologised for collecting the data, and has ceased collection of information from wi-fi networks. The ICO said that it would look at the results of other investigations to check if Google had made any privacy breaches.

Google is being investigated by France, Spain and Germany as well as the US, where 38 states have backed a large investigation of the company.


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