Google has come to an agreement with 38 states and the District of Columbia to settle a dispute regarding the company’s use of Street View vehicles to secretly collect personal information as it roamed the streets. The search giant has been slapped with a $7 million fine following the investigation, one of the largest fines related to privacy violation in the digital age.
If you recall, Google was accused of collecting e-mails, passwords, medical and even financial records from unencrypted wireless networks while photographing the streets we drive on every day. Google ultimately agreed that they had acted improperly and would delete all of the harvested data.
Furthermore, the company will be required to launch an employee training program concerning privacy and data use. That program will extend for at least the next 10 years, we’re told. Finally, Google must also launch a public campaign to educate consumers about how to secure their wireless networks. The monetary fine will be split between the 38 states and the District of Columbia.
This isn’t the first time that Google has come under fire over privacy concerns. Last year France’s National Commission for Information Freedom fined Google $142,000 for gathering information from unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
A month later, the Federal Communications Commission nailed the search giant for $25,000 for failing to cooperate with investigators over the same matter. Around the same time, Google decided to stop profiling German streets although a specific reason was not given.