Recently, Google was caught by "German data authorities" acquiring confidential information from its fleet of street mapping vehicles. According to Google it was gathering information to improve its service to WiFi users, but it also scooped up e-mail addresses and passwords. While Google apologizes for the mistake,
Google said its cars were supposed to collect only the names of and identifying information from Wi-Fi routers, which it uses as an ad-hoc GPS system to localize searches for mobile users. The company said it inadvertently captured internet traffic as well, but never looked at it. While it has apologized for the collection, Google is arguing in court that Wi-Fi sniffing is not illegal.
Although the Federal Trade Commission has closed its investigation without bringing charges, Google faces other government investigations and class actions suits around the world.