Skip to content

Media Statements

Media Statements

Date: 26 May 2010

Google collected Wi-Fi data in Hong Kong

1.    The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Mr. Roderick B. Woo ("the Commissioner") sent to Google on 19 May a form of Undertaking (see attached copy) containing assurances to be given by Google to the Commissioner.  The substantive contents of the Undertaking had been mentioned by him to Google's Hong Kong representative at a meeting held the day before.  The Commissioner had requested Google to sign the Undertaking by 24 May.  So far, he has not received any response, either verbally or in writing, from either Google Inc. in the U.S.A. or its Hong Kong office as to whether it is prepared to give the Undertaking in terms as drafted or in a modified form.  Google has to all effect and appearance ignored the request.

2.    The Commissioner had earlier announced the carrying out of a compliance check against Google's admitted wrongful collection of the Wi-fi data which contained certain personal data.  He expressed disappointment at the lack of response from Google as to its intention to remedy the situation and at Google's failure to assuage the concern of the people of Hong Kong by signing the Undertaking.  He did not think it was the proper stance a respectable international organization like Google should take.  He failed to detect any sign of willingness to cooperate in the matter of the Undertaking.

3.    Mr Woo said, "I am dismayed by Google's apparent lack of sincerity in its handling of this matter.  I am particularly dissatisfied with the current status.  I do not see that Google is taking the matter seriously enough.  Google says time and again that maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything it does.  However, when asked to sign a formal Undertaking which in most parts repeats what it has said elsewhere, Google has been found not forthcoming and less than cooperative.   Yesterday I chaired a meeting of the Standing Committee on Technological Development and sought the advice of external experts and professionals.  Today I discussed this matter with some overseas data protection authorities which are equally concerned about Google's wrongful collection of personal data.  Unless some remedial measures are taken by Google promptly, I shall have to consider escalating the situation and resort to more assertive action."