FTC Drops Probe of Google’s Street View Data Collection

There’s one less investigation that Google has to worry about. On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission sent a two-page letter to the search giant, saying it was ending an inquiry into privacy violations by the company’s Street View vehicles.

The government agency cited recent efforts by Google to increase its vigilance on privacy issues. Because of these commitments, which include assurances that the collected consumer data won’t be used by the company, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director David Vladek wrote in the letter that his agency is “ending our inquiry into this matter at this time.”

‘Internationally Recognized Expert’

Late last week, Google Senior Vice President of Engineering and Research Alan Eustace announced that his company has appointed Alma Whitten as director of privacy, across both engineering and product management. Described by the company as “an internationally recognized expert” in privacy and security, Whitten’s marching orders are to build more effective privacy controls in products and policy.

The company is also enhancing core training for engineers, product managers, and others on how to responsibly collect, use and handle data. This is in addition to the current orientation training, which includes instruction on privacy principles and a requirement to sign Google’s code of conduct.

There will also be a new information-security awareness program in place by the end of this year for all employees, and Google will be adding new processes to its internal compliance procedures. The procedures now require that engineering project leaders maintain a “privacy design document” for each of the projects that they head.

This doesn’t necessary end all American investigations. Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas have requested more information from Google, and a multi-state team has been looking into the matter. Additionally, at least seven class-action lawsuits have…

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