Google German Criminal Street View Probe Said to Be Dropped

German prosecutors will drop a criminal probe into whether Google Inc. (GOOG) illegally gathered wireless-network data for its Street View mapping service, two people familiar with the issue said.

Prosecutors in the city of Hamburg didn’t find criminal violations, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the matter hasn’t formally ended.

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 has come under mounting scrutiny from regulators worldwide over privacy issues related to Street View. The Federal Communications Commission fined Google $25,000 for impeding its probe of improper data gathering. Norway’s data watchdog fined Google 250,000 kroner ($43,913) and the French levied a record 100,000 euro fine. The Paris-based authority will announce next week the results of its audit into recent changes to Google’s privacy policy.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, triggered probes across Europe when cars it sent out to take photos for its Street View service collected so-called payload data from unrestricted Wi-Fi networks. Google said it was done mistakenly.

Johannes Caspar, the data-protection commissioner of Hamburg who has also looked into the allegations, said that if prosecutors dropped the criminal probe, his office will resume an administrative investigation.

To contact the reporters on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net; Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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