From 2008 to 2010, Google's Street View team collected personal data without consent.
For a company that earned more than $50 billion in consolidated revenues last year, a $7 million fine is the very definition of a slap on the wrist, but hey, it mostly goes to lawyers anyway. That's the amount Google agreed to pay to settle a Street View privacy lawsuit with 37 states and the District of Columbia, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today. In addition to the fine, Google agreed to secure and destroy information it improperly collected from March 2008 to March 2010.
As it turns out, Google didn't run over a donkey taking Street View pictures.
Everyone knows what happens when you assume things, and admittedly, Street Viewpictures in the Kweneng region of Botswana showing a donkey sprawled across the road amid a puff of dust looked bad. Like, really bad. At a glance, it appeared Google ran over and killed the wandering donkey in its continued quest to photograph the planet, an innocent victim in the wrong place at precisely the right time. But guess what? The donkey's alive.
Google put itself in political hot water by “accidentally” collecting un-encrypted Wi-Fi data alongside roadside images, but offered to make amends by immediately deleting it with the co-operation of local governments. It’s hard to understand how such a human error could occur, however most people were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. It turns out however, another human error prevented them from carrying through on their promise, and an undisclosed amount of data remains on Google servers.
Google's market capital is over $200 billion, and shares of the search giant sell for about $625 a pop. Why is this relevant? Well, let's just say that a $25,000 fine wouldn't exactly be painful to Google. In fact, it would barely register as a prick, yet it's the amount the Federal Trade Commission is seeking after accusing the sultan of search of acting like one, or more specifically, for 'impeding' an investigation into how it collects personal and private data, including emails and text messages, through its Street View service.
Most of the time, Google’s nifty little Street View is nothing more than an interesting toy or a way to see landmarks along a road trip. Today, it became something else: a visual memory of one of the most damaging natural disasters in recent history. Google took it upon itself to take its cameras to the streets in the aftermath of Japan’s horrific earthquake and tsunami to show the world the true extent of the devastation, complete with before and after pictures to drive the point home.
Google certainly does not need anymore bad publicity for its Street View product after lat year’s Wi-Fi data scandal. But, here we have the French data protection authority Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) claiming that Google’s Street View cars slurped up the MAC addresses of mobile devices and laptops.
The payload data that Google Street View cars harvested from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks has already been deleted in many of the affected countries. Netherlands is one such country where all personal data was deleted after obtaining the necessary clearance from the country's data privacy watchdog the Dutch Data Protection Agency (DPA). But as it turns out the search engine giant has a lot more on its plate than first imagined. The DPA now has a problem with the way Google collects MAC addresses of Wi-Fi routers around the country. Hit the jump for more.
A German court last month declared street-level photography by Street View's car-mounted cameras to be legal when it dismissed a lawsuit alleging personal and property rights violations on the part of Google's Street View service. Despite the legal victory, and contrary to what most people might have expected, the company has decided against returning to the streets of Germany with the camera-toting vehicles it uses to collect street imagery for its popular Google Maps and Google Earth services.
Google's semi-controversial Street View technology is once again making headlines, this time because of a heavy-handed fine imposed by France's data privacy regulator. According to an AFP report, France fined Google 100,000 euros today, or about $142,000 in U.S. currency, for collecting private information. It's the biggest fine ever handed out by the National Commission for Information Freedom (CNIL) since the organization obtained the power to do so in 2004.
Aaron and Christine Boring are now $1 richer after winning a court dispute against Google for "intentional and/or grossly reckless invasion" of privacy, TechCrunch reports.
The 'Boring' couple filed the suit two years ago after one of Google's Street View cars drove by their home and snapped a few photos. There were other charges in the case, all of which were tossed out of court, save for the sole Trespassing charge.
More than two years later, a judge finally ruled in the couple's favor, finding Google guilty of Count II Trespass. For their troubles, they'll receive a buck.
"We are pleased that this lawsuit has finally ended with plaintiff's acknowledgment that they are entitled to only $1," Google said.
No word on how the Borings plan to spend their settlement.