Google is back under investigative scrutiny about how and what data it collected while mapping the UK for its Street View service.

A previous investigation fell apart after an Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) was told that any non-map-based data had been collected by accident, and we can't see why you wouldn't take a statement like that from the massive multinational internet company that you're investigating at face value.

Since then, someone has let slip that "a Google engineer", referred to as Engineer Doe, wrote software that was capable of skimming more information from Wi-Fi networks as the cars drove around the country, suspected to include emails, IMs, log-in details and more.

Word on the street

The case has been reopened partly because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US found that at least three people at Google, including a senior manager, knew about this sneaky software, although it concluded that Google had not broken any Stateside laws.

The ICO penned a letter to Google explaining that the FCC had found "complete email messages, email headings, instant messages and their content, logging-in credentials, medical listings and legal infractions, information in relation to online dating and visits to pornographic sites."

"It… seems likely such information was deliberately captured during the Google Street View operations conducted in the UK," the ICO said, thus reopening the investigation.

Google is playing it cool, of course. A spokesman for the company said it was "happy" to answer any queries the ICO has, adding that, "We have always said that the project leaders did not want and did not use this payload data.

"Indeed, they never even looked at it."

From BBC