As it was previously reported, Google has agreed to pay a $7m fine for collecting people's personal data without authorisation as part of its Street View service.
U.S. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today joined 37 states and the District of Columbia in announcing the settlement with Google over its unauthorized collection of data from unsecured wireless networks in the U.S. Between 2008 and March 2010, Google took photographs for its Street View service and for use in future geolocation services. At the same time, Google collected and stored information including email and text messages, passwords, and web histories being transmitted over unsecured wireless networks without consent from the consumer.
Under the terms of the agreement, Google has agreed to secure and destroy the information it improperly collected, launch an employee training program to ensure its employees understand how to protect consumers and their information, conduct a national advertising campaign to educate consumers on how to protect their private information, and pay a $7 million fine to the states involved.
"Consumers have a right to protect their vital personal and financial information from improper and unwanted use by corporations like Google," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "This settlement addresses privacy issues and protects the rights of people whose information was collected without their permission. My office will continue to hold corporations accountable for violating the rights of New Yorkers."
The information Google collected may have included confidential or private information being transmitted to or from private homes while the Street View cars were driving by. Google has since disabled or removed both the equipment and software used to collect such data from its Street View vehicles, and agreed not to collect any additional information without notice and consent.
Further, Google agreed that the personal data its Street View cars collected will not be used in any product or service or be disclosed to any third party.
The $7 million fine represents a tiny fraction of Google's roughly $50.2 billion in 2012 revenue and its $10.7 billion in net income.
Marc Rotenberg, of the non-profit privacy advocacy group the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that the fine represents the largest in U.S. history by state Attorneys General for violations of Internet privacy.
"With revenue of $100 million a day, the fine just a drop in the bucket and not enough to deter bad behavior," Steve Pociask, the president of the non-profit American Consumer Institute, said in a statement.