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Google hired a top official from a UK government agency charged with investigating the company


A man checks out the homepage of Google internet search engine in an office in Washington, DC, on Feb. 8, 2011, when Google paid tribute to Jules Verne, author of "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." Israel is debating letting in Google Street View.


Jewel Samad

In 2010, Google's Street View service came under fire from privacy advocates, after it was revealed that the Street View cars were picking up private information from people's unsecured wireless networks.

The United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office was one of several European agencies charged with investigating Google Street View after the scandal. But that investigation drew even more criticism. The agency gave Google a mere slap on the wrist, the Associated Press reported.

There may have been a reason for that. A freedom of information act request asked by a member of the public reveals a potentially cozy relationship between the Information Commissioner's Office and Google. The request reveals that Stephen McCartney, a former senior official at the Information Commissioner's Office, left the agency in November 2011 and began working at Google. 

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The Information Commissioner's Office told BBC News that McCartney "played no part" in the agency's investigation into Google Street View. 

But others are suspicious. "This is a pretty shocking revelation," Rob Halfon, a Member of the Parliament, told the Guardian. "It raises more questions about the information commissioner than it does Google because clearly the ICO has been asleep on their watch on this issue."

The United States Federal Communications Commission has been tougher on Google. The agency fined Google $25,000 for the Street View scandal last year after concluding that more than one Google employee was at fault. As a result of that report, the UK Information Commissioner's Office reopened its investigation into Google Street View last month.