A “programming error” does not make it okay to violate privacy laws
The data collection, which Google said was inadvertent and the result of a programming error, took place in all the countries where Street View has been catalogued, including the United States and parts of Europe and Asia. Google apologized and said it had not used the information, which it plans to delete in conjunction with regulators.
But in Germany, Google’s collection of the data — which the company said could include the Web sites viewed by individuals or the content of their e-mail — is a violation of privacy law, said Ilse Aigner, the German minister for food, agriculture and consumer protection. In a statement Saturday, her ministry demanded a full accounting.
“Based on the information we have before us, it appears that Google has illegally tapped into private networks in violation of German law,” Ms. Aigner said. “This is alarming and further evidence that privacy law is a foreign concept to Google.”