It's not exactly the "don't be evil" that Google used to talk about. If true, whoever approved this stupid move (and it was reportedly at high levels) overlooked the legal impact of grabbing this data and holding onto it. The legal action around the world is going to be very expensive for Google and it was completely avoidable. The Guardian:
Google is facing increasing pressure after the information commissioner launched an investigation into claims that it orchestrated a cover-up of its capture of emails, passwords and medical records of people in the UK.
The UK data watchdog has written to Google demanding answers after it emerged that the search engine firm knew its Street View cars could harvest personal information as they photographed homes across the globe.
The information commissioner's office said it was likely that highly private data – including email messages and browsing history – was secretly and deliberately captured from internet users in the UK. Google will now have to explain whether it misled regulators over the saga, which has hounded the company for more than two years.