Search engine giant Google has caused outrage after it admitted that it took emails and passwords from households across Britain.
Google's Street View cars first angered privacy campaigners when they cruised streets taking photographs with large cameras mounted on their roofs.
But the search engine has now confessed that in a further privacy breach the cars also downloaded personal data from wireless networks.
Privacy breach: Google has admitted that its Street View cars also took people's emails and passwords
Several countries have launched legal action against the company and campaigners branded the revelation 'absolutely scandalous'.
Google began gathering images of residential streets in the UK with cameras mounted on its cars in 2008.
The pictures - which were uploaded onto its Street View site - allowed web users to walk through streets in Britain dozens of other countries.
The images caught hundreds of people in embarrassing positions. One picture showed showed a topless gardener painting his fence and another caught a man emerging from an adult shop in Soho.
Caught out: Google cameras photographed this obvious gardener with his top off as he painted his fence
Furious residents whose homes had been photographed complained to the search engine who removed the pictures from its site.
But in May this year, Google sparked fresh controversy when it confessed that the vehicles had also been gathering information about the location of wireless networks.
At the time, Google said the information was limited to 'fragments' of unencrypted data because the cars were always moving and because the cars' wireless equipment automatically changed channels about five times a second.
Now the company, based in California, has revealed that more information was harvested than previously thought after privacy regulators in seven countries analysed the data.
Sources told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that Britain was among the countries that were affected by the privacy breach.
The data included emails being sent but private individuals, web pages they were viewing and passwords they might have entered. It is believed that wireless networks not protected by passwords were affected.
Privacy International Director Simon Davies said: 'It's absolutely scandalous that so many people have had their communications intercepted.
'The company must launch a full inquiry and produce a public report.'
The latest disclosure comes from information from regulators in various countries, who have rigorously examined the data collected by Google.
Google Vice President of Engineering and Research, Alan Eustace, made the confession in a post on Google's blog on Friday.
Experts in France, Germany and Spain, among others, have opened investigations into the matter.
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A coalition of more than 30 state attorneys general in the United States also have launched a joint probe.
Spain's data protection authority has filed suit against Google and the Czech data protection authority last month banned the company from taking Street View pictures, saying they violated privacy.
He said: 'It's clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords.
'We're acutely aware that we failed badly here.
A Google spokesman said the company had not examined the roughly 600 GB of data captured by the cars in any detail to avoid violating privacy.
The spokesman added that Google had deleted the data in countries where regulators had given it permission to do so.
Investigations in six countries including New Zealand and the Netherlands, were closed, the spokesman said. There were investigations ongoing in other countries, but Google could not delete the data until the investigations were closed
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1323310/Google-used-Street-View-cars-emails-passwords-privacy-breach.html#ixzz13H1p2YVB
Indeed, I swallow a textbook everyday….a fact of which I am proud By far preferable and productive than wasting precious hours concocting and launching vitriolic attacks against others in the hope of gaining a few claps on a board frequented by lesser life form.
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Many people dont know that taking pictures wasn't all they did.
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