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Google Faces Furor in Europe Over Revelation it Collected Private Data

Google is under fire in Europe after the company disclosed that it had collected private data from unsecured home wireless networks while compiling its Street View photo archive.

A regulator in Hamburg, Germany, threatened legal action if Google does not turn over a hard drive containing information collected in Germany by May 26, the New York Times reported Tuesday. Google has offered to destroy the data, which it has said includes personal e-mail messages and information about websites viewed by people around the world. But it has not agreed to hand over the hard drives containing the data.

Google apologized for collecting "fragments of information" from unsecured WLANs, saying its actions were the result of a programming error, according to the New York Times story.

Google collected the information inadvertently, according to the company, in the U.S. as well as Europe. But the reaction has been much more intense in Europe, which has stronger privacy laws.

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Mary Swanton

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