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France hits Google with a €100,000 fine over Street View

Google says sorry
Mon Mar 21 2011, 15:37

INTERNET SERVICES GIANT Google has been hit with a €100,000 fine from the independent French data privacy regulator, the National Commission for Information Freedom (CNIL)

The CNIL, the French version of Ofcom in the UK, has confirmed that it imposed a €100,000 fine to Google on 17 March for "unfair collection (of data) under the law". The fine follows spot checks carried out by the CNIL on vehicles deployed by Google to capture and record data for its Street View service, which found that they had collected data other than photographs.

The vehicles, which have been driving around the globe to photograph every road in panoramic views, have been doing so since 2007. Privacy issues arose relating to the cars capturing data from unencrypted WiFi networks as they drove around, recording sensitive personal data such as user IDs, passwords, login details and more.

Back in May of 2010, the CNIL issued a warning to Google to cease collecting the data and told it to provide it with a copy of all the data collected. Google did hand the data over the CNIL, unlike its recent refusal to do so in the US. The CNIL was the first organisation in the world to analyse the data 'mistakenly' collected by Google's mobile data snufflers and revealed that data as sensitive as peoples sexual orientation or health was recorded, as well as email addresses and passwords.

In the decision on 17 March, the CNIL noted that Google had vowed to stop the data collection but it found that Google had "not refrained from using the data identifying access points Wi-Fi [of] individuals without their knowledge."

Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel said, "As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks. As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all WiFi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities. Deleting the data has always been our priority, and we're happy the CNIL has given permission for us to do so." µ

 

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