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Google Adopts Tighter Privacy Rules After Wi-Fi Snafu

Alma Whitten of Google
Alma Whitten, appointed at Google's director of policy for engineering and product management. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Google Inc. is strengthening internal privacy controls after its mapping service mistakenly gathered personal e-mails and passwords from unsecured wireless networks.

The company is improving training for workers, including engineers, in areas such as product management and legal affairs, and strengthening compliance procedures, according to a Google blog post today. In addition, the company appointed Alma Whitten, the company’s engineering leader on privacy, as director of policy for engineering and product management.

Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, has faced probes by authorities in the U.S. and many other countries for the way it gathered data with its Street View service. The company first disclosed the security breach in May. Canada said this week that the feature violated the nation’s privacy law by accessing personal information. Google wants to delete all the data it collected as soon as it can.

“These changes will significantly improve our internal practices (though no system can of course entirely eliminate human error), and we look forward to seeing the innovative new security and privacy features that Alma and her team develop,” Alan Eustace, senior vice president, engineering and research, said in the blog. “That said, we’ll be constantly on the lookout for additional improvements to our procedures as Google grows, and as we branch out into new fields of computer science.”

Starting next month, Google will also require all employees to go through an information security awareness program, Eustace said.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, rose 54 cents to $612.53 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have fallen 1.2 percent this year.

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