Google to pay $7M to US states for Wi-Fi eavesdropping

The company will destroy all personal data inadvertently collected by its Street View cars

Google will pay US$7 million to settle complaints from dozens of U.S. states about its unauthorized collection of personal data transmitted over Wi-Fi networks.

The money will be paid to 37 states and the District of Columbia, which had gone after Google after it admitted that its Street View cars had collected the data inadvertently between 2008 and 2010.

As well as photographing their surroundings, the Street View cars collect data about the location of Wi-Fi access points to help with Google's navigation services. It was during that process that the company's cars collected personal information sent over those networks.

As part of the settlement, Google said it would destroy the personal data it collected.

It has also removed the equipment and software used to collect the data from its Street View vehicles and will not collect additional information without prior notice and consent, the Attorney General of New York said in a statement.

It's a relatively small sum for a company of Google's size. To put the settlement in context, it's a little more than the $6 million bonus that Google will pay Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt for his work at the company in 2012, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

Google will also provide a training program to its employees for 10 years about privacy and the confidentiality of user data, and will launch a public-service advertising campaign to educate consumers about keeping their personal information secure on Wi-Fi networks.

The disclosure by Google that it collected the information drew attention worldwide. Google paid a ¬100,000 ($130,000) fine to France's National Commission on Computing and Liberty, while a public prosecutor in Germany declined to launch a criminal investigation.

Google also paid a $25,000 fine to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for delaying an investigation into the issue.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GoogleCivil lawsuitslegal

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?