Google has had trouble with its popular Street View product in Germany since the beginning. There were privacy concerns about it in the country before it finally received the go ahead from German courts, and ultimately launched in that country in 2010 (albeit, with a first-of-its kind opt out program). Hundreds of thousands of Germans opted out.
Also in 2010, it was revealed that Google had “accidentally” collected personal information of users via Wi-Fi networks with its Street View vehicles, and the company has been dealing with authorities around the globe regarding that issue ever since. Earlier this year, Google spoke up about some more related data it had found, after it was already supposed to have been deleted.
Bloomberg is reporting that German prosecutors will drop a criminal probe into whether Google illegally gathered the user info, and that prosecutors in Hamburg did not find criminal violations. The report cites “two people familiar with the issue”. Co-authors Karin Matussek and Stephanie Bodoni write:
Hamburg prosecutors have finalized their investigation and are preparing to issue a decision, spokeswoman Nana Frombach said. They opened the inquiry in 2010 after receiving a complaint. No suspects were identified.
Google may still not be completely out of the hot water in Germany, however, even if the probe is indeed dropped. As the authors point out, Hamburg Data Protection Commissioner Johannes Caspar has said his office will resume an administrative investigation, even if the criminal probe is dropped.
This week, Google announced its largest Street View update to date.