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Google fined again for Wi-Fi data collection

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Google's Street View service, which sends out camera-equipped cars to map the world's avenues, boulevards and everything else it stumbles upon, has been fined once again for capturing more than just images.

A German regulator fined Google 145,000 euros (about $189,230) for illegally collecting private Wi-Fi network data, including contents of e-mails, passwords, user names, photos and chat protocols, reported Bloomberg. According to the regulator, Google's cars captured the personal data from 2008 to 2010.

The fine was highest Germany was able to issue to a company by law. Still, the fine itself is tiny compared to the company's 2012 total net profit of $10.7 billion. A proposed European data protection and privacy law would have allowed a far costlier punishment of up to 2 percent of Google's annual turnover.

Google has been fined by regulators in the past--including a 100,000-euro penalty by the French government in 2011--for the Street View Wi-Fi breaches, reported Bloomberg. The company says it has addressed the Street View issue and claim it never wanted the data, didn't use it or look at it.

Google Street View has raised privacy concerns ever since it launched in 2007. Montreal-based artist Jon Rafman's intimate collection of shots taken from Street View, illustrate how deeply these camera-equipped cars have burrowed into our everyday lives.

Google has implemented a number of policies intended to protect the privacy and anonymity of folks captured by Street View vehicles. The images are not real time and individuals and license plates are automatically blurred by technology developed by Google. Users can request further blurring of any image that features that person, their family, car or home, Google says.

Photo: Google

— By on April 22, 2013, 2:33 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure