updated 10:50 am EDT, Fri July 9, 2010
Google to resume limited Street View mapping
Google let the public know on Thursday that its grounded fleet of Street View collecting vehicles is resuming mapping on a limited basis. The May stoppage was due to the software giant accidentally collecting Wi-Fi data rather than just street-level images of roads and their surroundings. The vehicles are made lighter, as their Wi-Fi scanning equipment was removed. At the same time, independent security experts Stroz Friedberg have ensured Wi-Fi related software was likewise removed from the vehicles.
Starting next week, Street View image collection will resume in Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Sweden. More countries will be added in due time. With the photos Google collects, it can improve the quality of its maps, and refines local business listing and travel directions. Also collected is 3D building imagery with low-power lasers.
The halt to collection was prompted partly by a backlash from local governments both within the US and abroad, many of which either demanded an investigation or have threatened lawsuits for the unauthorized collection of Internet traffic. Google has insisted that it only collected fragments of data due to the unintentional inclusion of test code, but critics have noted that it could have collected passwords and any other personal information going out over unprotected Wi-Fi networks.