When Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, ordered Google to delete data including emails and passwords illegally collected from some public Wi-Fi networks, many thought the case was effectively closed.
The Metropolitan Police had ended its investigation, Google had committed to improve its data handling (PDF), and its compliance with the DPA would be audited in 2011.
But a Freedom of Information request released on Friday reveals that Google is wary of deleting all of the UK payload data, due to outstanding actions in other countries.
Although the majority of UK data was deleted on 26 November, seven days after the ICO directive, some still remains on disks that "could" contain data from other countries. As Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, explains in an email to the ICO on 26 November
Msg#: 4243672 posted 7:07 pm on Dec 17, 2010 (gmt 0)
The FOI correspondance shows that the deletion could have been a simple
rm -fR /streeview/hd1
"This letter is to inform you that, pursuant to the request of the United Kingdom Information Commissioner's Office and at the direction of Perkins Coie, LLP, on November 24, 2010, Stroz Friedberg, LLC deleted the payload data of 802.11 (a.k.a. "wireless) Data Frames that were identified by Google as having been collected in the United Kingdom by Google Street View vehicles running the gstumbler program.
The payload data of Data Frames identified as having been collected in United Kingdom was located on four hard drives, which were maintained in a safe in Google's Mountain View offices. On November 24, 2010, Stroz Friedberg deleted irretrievably the United Kingdom payload data from all four hard drives using Linux based secure deletion utilities and confirmed the successful deletion of the United Kingdom payload data"