Three years after admitting that its horizontal mapping service has indeed been accidentally collecting "fragmentary" personal data, such as email addresses and computer passwords, in the course of taking pictures for Google Maps, Google got served with an enforcement notice by the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office Friday.
According to the ICO, Google has been ordered "to delete the remaining payload data identified last year within the next 35 days and immediately inform the ICO if any further disks are found. Failure to abide by the notice will be considered as contempt of court, which is a criminal offence." The ICO action comes in response to Google's revelation last summer, that it had discovered a few more computer disks still in its possession, containing illicitly obtained information.
Google notes that it has never "accessed" or viewed the contents of the disks in question, nor published any of the data collected thereon. For these and other reasons, ICO says Google's culpability does not rise to the level where it deserves to be fined -- but it does deserve a stern warning, and that's exactly what ICO just issued.
A separate ICO investigation into whether Google's privacy policies comply with EU data protection legislation is still ongoing.