Written in 2006 for a separate WiFi experiment and programmed into the cars, the code inadvertently picked up snippets of unencrypted data as the vehicles drove by. Granted, the stream of information changed about five times per second, however, the cars still retained the collected data. Google is being audited by a third-party company and is figuring out how to dispose of the information based on local guidelines.
It also begs the question of whether Google should continue its quest to map out the world via Google Maps and other programs. While a simple mistake (or series of mistakes) may render the project a no-go and a huge danger/negative in the public opinion, there is something to be said about the educational and informational benefits such detailed programs provide -- such as guiding drivers through a tricky part of town, or showing people a part of the world they could never afford to go to. Internet law expert attorneys will continue to monitor the progress of programs such as Google Maps.
This post authored by Taren Fujimoto. Edited by Erik Syverson.