Google knew software for its Street View fleet could secretly collect personal data including emails, pictures and text messages from unprotected wi-fi networks, it has been claimed.
Documents seen by America’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) apparently show an engineer created the snooping technology called gstumbler which could capture data from inside residents’ homes as teams toured the country.
One particular document shows that the engineer flagged up privacy implications and said a privacy lawyer should be consulted before the software was installed.
The bank of personal data collected could have been used by Google to develop new products.
It is no secret that the firm wants to continue tailoring information it gives internet users so it is relevant to their finances, interests, relationships and buying habits.
However, in a statement today the technology giant said it ‘did not want or intend to use this payload data’.
It has previously said that the data harvesting was a ‘mistake.’
The FCC compiled a report into the case which took 17 months to compile and emerged earlier this month.
It details how between 2007 and 2010, Google Street View cars tapped into the browsing histories, text messages and personal emails of people on unsecured WiFi networks.
The engineer who created the software is reported to be Marius Milner, a 41-year-old British software engineer based in California.
Cambridge-educated Mr Milner, from Hove, East Sussex, who has pleaded the fifth amendment which protects witnesses from incriminating themselves, said that this information would ‘be analysed offline for use in other initiatives’ in the original proposal, and told several other Google employees of the data collection capabilities of the program, according to the report.
‘We are logging user traffic along with sufficient data to precisely triangulate their position at a given time, along with information about what they were doing,’ the engineer wrote.
In a statement to MailOnline today the firm said: ‘We have always been clear that the leaders of this project did not want or intend to use this payload data.
‘Indeed Google never used it in any of our products or services. Both the Department of Justice and the FCC have looked into this closely – including reviewing the internal correspondence – and both found no violation of law.’