France fines Google over Street View data grab

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted March 21 at 1:50 p.m.

France’s online privacy watchdog said Monday it has fined Google Inc.  100,000 euros, or around $144,000, for unfair data collection from wireless networks through the company’s Street View mapping service and localization program Latitude.

Last May, Google disclosed that the camera-equipped cars it uses to take pictures for Street View, which has provided panoramic views of city streets since it was launched in 2007, had for several years inadvertently collected personal data from unsecured wireless networks across the world. The revelation prompted scrutiny from authorities in a number of countries, including France and the United Kingdom.

France’s Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertes, or CNIL, said Monday that Google hasn’t fully complied with its demands from last May over the collection of data, such as disclosing full details of the computer program used to get the information.

While Google has ceased collecting information via the Street View cars, the company continues to collect data on Wi-Fi access points through smart phones connected to its Latitude service, without informing individuals, another reason for the fine, the CNIL said. This constitutes unfair data collection that benefits Google economically, the CNIL added.

The CNIL has asked Google to register the Latitude system with the organization, but the company disagrees that French laws require it to do so, the CNIL Secretary General Yann Padova said Monday.

“As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks,” Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer said in an emailed statement Monday. The company said it immediately told authorities of the data inadvertently collected from cars filming streets for Street View.

Google can now appeal the fine.

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One comment:

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