Google raided by police in South Korea

Inspector Knacker of the Seoul Yard has swooped on the offices of the search outfit Google.

According to people in the know, Inspector Knacker had reason to believe that Google’s mobile advertising unit AdMob had illegally collected location data without consent.

The South Korean coppers seem to have been reading the press and discovered that the Android phones, with GPS, grab details of their owner’s location.

Inspector Knacker is quoted as saying that AdMob collected personal location information without consent or approval from the Korean Communication Commission.

He has not yet mounted a similar raid on Apple. He was probably re-assured by Steve Jobs‘ claims that the iPhone 4 does not do that sort of thing.

Kim Kwang-jo, a computer science professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, told Reuters that location-based services benefit customers by helping them find nearby restaurants, gas stations and other places with their smartphones.

The argument is, many people are not aware of this and it violates consumer privacy.

Kwang-jo said that there are loopholes in location-based services, and companies should get consent from customers before collecting location data.

A Google spokesman confirmed that the Inspector had called and that the company was cooperating with their investigation.  It’s not the first time.

Inspector Knacker had other people to visit. He raided the offices of local portal Daum Communications over similar suspicions.

Daum said location data collected by its mobile ad services was not illegal. Everything was anonymous and could not be used to track individuals, the outfit said.