Google's Street View scandal seems to be picking up steam again after a brief period when it looked like it was finally over for the company.
The FCC ended its investigation into the matter and did not find anything illegal in Google's behavior though it did fine the company for obstructing the investigation by not responding fast enough or completely to requests.
The FCC and Google released some of the documents from the investigation shortly after that and that's when it all started again. The documents indicated that at least several people should have been aware in one form or another of the code that captured the WiFi payload data.
The documents indicated that there was one engineer that created the code, as Google had stated all along.
But it also showed that product managers and other people at Google had been informed about the software and that another engineer reviewed the code in its entirety, albeit looking for errors and problems and not at what the code did.
But the documents only served to create more confusion than provide answers. Several privacy regulators indicated that they might re-open their investigations
Now, the UK Information Commissioner's Office has said that a new investigation is underway in the light of the new facts. It believes that it was misled by Google and has sent the company demanding answers.
For one, it is startled to find out that passwords, emails and other complete data were captured. Google admitted that such data had been collected last year. The ICO is also surprised to discover that the data was actually captured "deliberately" as opposed to it being a "mistake" as Google claimed.
Of course, code doesn't just appear out of thin air, so, in a sense, the data capture was deliberate, the code was created for that purpose. The real question was whether this code ended up in the Street View cars by mistake or not.
The ICO also wants to know when Google discovered the issue. Google said that it became aware of the problem during an internal investigation in 2010. It went public with its findings shortly after that.
Google has confirmed that the ICO has re-opened the investigation. It has also released several more documents from the FCC investigation. Some of the documents
are sworn statements from Google employees over the matter.
The names and some of the details are blacked out, but the documents all say pretty much the same thing, no one was aware that Street View cars collected payload data (even though they could have been) and no one used that data.