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Google pays $7 million to settle the street view privacy issue

Sites include . Published on March 15th, 2013. Written by Loic Cobbina.

Google will have to pay $7 million in privacy settlement for the fact that its Street View car fleet accidentally collected sensitive data like password and messages from unsecured Wi-Fi networks as it rolled past businesses and homes between the year 2008 and 2010. The news was announced on Tuesday.

Google has made sure nobody has access to these informations and has agreed to destroy it without making any use of it in any of its service. The online giant has also improved on the privacy settings of its Street View vehicles to make sure in the future they don’t collect user’s private information without their consent.

Google representatives have acknowledged that there is a privacy lapse and to remediate that they intend to start a privacy training program at the national level to make sure that users learn to protect their private information.

Attorney General of Connecticut, George Jepsen said that even though the amount of $7 million is quite an important one, this agreement goes beyond financial terms. The state of Connecticut is among the 38 states that will share the amount. Jepsen added that from this point on, based on this agreement, Google will have to make sure that no personal information is collected from unsuspecting users.

A Google representative acknowledged the issue about user’s privacy and added that it was not Google’s intention to collect them. The spokesperson added that Google does its best to make sure that the user’s privacy is always respected. In this particular case they failed to do that and for that reason they decided to tighten their security system to deal with the issue. He also included that the project managers did not make use of the collected data in any way. To conclude the representative made mention of the fact that Google was happy to have worked with Connecticut Attorney General and other states Attorneys to settle this issue.

Google did admit that is was part of the program to collect network identification data in order to use it in geolocation services but the executives in the company were unaware that there was a security breach that would allow personal information to also be grabbed in the process.

Google seems to have a lot of money to spare. The search engine company was previously fined $25,000 for impeding an investigation from the Federal Communications Commission concerning the Street View privacy issue. Later on the FCC decided not to take further action against the company.

One thing we know for sure is Google is hungry of user information. The more it can collect information from users, the better the search engine can improve and give users specific search results according to their queries. By integrating all its services with Google+ the search engine can hope to consolidate its online dominance and possibly kick away the competitors.

Do you really think that the project managers were completely unaware that their Street View car fleets were collecting privacy data about their users? Is the amount of $7 million enough to shake the company a bit. Share your views below.

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