Search engine giant Google has reached a settlement with 38 states and the District of Columbia to pay more than $7 million over privacy issues linked to the company's Google Street View cars.
The cars were equipped with antennas and software that collected private network identification information, data frames, and payload data from private businesses and residents as they drove by, reports The Wall Street Journal.
A company spokesman said that Google works hard "to get privacy right," but in this case the company did not, admitting to the privacy violations.
In a statement, the Google spokesman said the company has rectified the problem, adding that it never intended to collect the private data at issue, nor did it even want to look at it.
Along with having to pay out $7 million, the settlement also requires Google to take some additional steps, such as:
- Educating its employees. The company must offer a comprehensive employee-education program about the privacy and confidentiality of user data that it collects.
- Educating consumers. Along with educating its own employees, Google must sponsor a nationwide public-service campaign to help educate consumers about securing their wireless networks and protecting personal information.
- Following protocols for data storage and destruction. Google will have to follow proper protocols to secure data that it collected and stored from the Street View cars used between 2008 and 2010. In addition, the company will have to meet requirements for the destruction of this data.
The Google Street View settlement must still be approved by a judge. Meantime, the company has also been investigated by 12 countries over similar issues. Nine countries found Google to have violated its laws, and Google could face litigation in these countries as well.
- Google Admits To Violating Your Privacy With Its Street View Cars (Business Insider)
- Google, FTC Reach Agreement on Competition Issues (FindLaw's Technologist)
- 7 Simple Steps to Protect Your Online Privacy (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Invasion of Privacy (FindLaw)