In a surprise turn of events, Google has written today to the UK data protection authority (the “ICO”) and other regulators around the world stating that it still possesses some of the payload data collected by its Street View vehicles in 2010.  This follows the ICO re-opening its probe into Google’s Street View activity last month.

The company confirmed that during an internal review it determined that it still held payload data from both the UK and other countries.  These include Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Austria and Australia.  Google has stated that it would like to delete the remaining UK data but would like instructions from the ICO before proceeding. 

The ICO has responded with a letter stating that it intends to examine the content of the UK payload data and asked for the data to be held securely for this purpose.  The ICO has also released a statement noting that the payload data “was supposed to have been deleted in December 2010” and the “fact that some of this information still exists appears to breach the undertaking to the ICO signed by Google in November 2010”. 

Furthermore, the ICO confirmed that it was in touch with other data protection authorities in the EU and elsewhere to coordinate the response to this development.