Google fined over illegal data capture – again

Google have been at it again. They have been fined 145,000 euros (£125000) by German data regulators for illegally recording information from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Germany’s data chief called it ‘one of the biggest known data protection violations in history’. The regulator also called the fine amount ‘totally inadequate’ as a deterrent to the company.

Google had been collected data from emails, passwords and photos. They said the data was collected unintentionally, and was never meant to be stored. The information was recorded between 2008 and 2010, during the time the company collected information for its Street View service. The data has since been deleted.

The latest fine comes only a month after the search engine giant was fined $7million for collecting personal data without permission in the US.

Under EU regulations, the maximum fine for accidental violation is 150,000 euros, and data protection supervisor Johannes Caspar said the amount should be increased in the future. In a statement the regulators said: “Among the information gathered in the drive-bys were significant amounts of personal data of varying quality. For example, emails, passwords, photos and chat protocols were collected.”

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said that the actions came from “the actions of a single individual that were not authorised by the executives”.

He also said: “Google of course is not perfect. In that particular case we actually disclosed it immediately and there were in fact no privacy violations.

“But it shows how seriously we take privacy and how important privacy is to everybody.”

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