Ten days ago the DPA (data protection authority) in Germany had asked Google to go through its Wi-Fi data that had been collected with its Google Earth Street View cars — they asked for this so the information could be used for use with location-based apps to find directions and places such as, bars and restaurants that are local to your position.
Google had first thought that its data collected did not include payload data, but they have now admitted that they made a mistake and these Google Earth Street View cars did collect this payload data. However, they point out that this data was collected from open Wi-Fi networks.
The search engine giant has said that this information was never used in any of their products. Google also added that the samples of data collected were just fragments as their cars move around quickly — that and the fact that the equipment in their cars changes their Wi-Fi channels several times throughout the day.
Google said that they did not intentionally collect data from open networks, it happened by mistake. However, once Google engineers learned of this they grounded their Street View cars so that they could segregate the data on their network — then they disabled it so that they could never collect this data again.
More on this story can be found on the Google Blog