SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- The South Korean police said on Thursday that they have filed charges against the global Internet giant, Google Inc. for its allegedly collecting private information, in violation of Internet privacy laws here.
The Google's office in Seoul was raided by local police in August on suspicion of its illicitly collecting personal information in preparing the local version of its "Street View" mapping services.
According to the police, Google used three cars equipped with special video recorders for taping streets and landscapes through the country between October 2009 and May 2010, but it is suspected of gathering private information through unprotected Wi-Fi networks during the same period.
The Cyber Terror Response Center, the internet crime unit at South Korea's National Police Agency (NPA), said, after wrapping up months-long investigation, they found evidence that Google's mapping service had illegally obtained and stored e-mails, instant messages, internet site ID's passwords, credit card information and other personal information of some 600,000 people in Seoul, Incheon, Busan and other places of the country.
According to NPA, Google's activities violated the country's laws on information and communication, protection of internet privacy, and protection and use of location information.
The police has obtained more than 220 hard drives and verified information of hundreds of thousands of people, while investigated about 10 company officials, the NPA said.
In response, Google Korea admitted it has collected individual' s personal information, but made it clear that it was unintentional and stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data as soon as they realized what had happened, adding that the collected information has never been misused. It said they have been cooperating with the Korean Communications Commission and the police and will continue to do so.
The global portal network has been providing Street View service, which allows users to view panoramic street scenes on its digital photomaps, in several countries such as the United States, Germany, Australia and Canada, and it has also been involved in similar charges in some countries.