Google fined €145,000 for German Street View privacy breach

23/04/2013

German regulators have fined Google for collecting massive amounts of personal data including emails, passwords and photos illegally via its Street View mapping service.

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Google was fined 145,000 euros (£125,000) for what the country's data chief called "one of the biggest known data protection violations in history".

But the regulator admitted the amount was "totally inadequate" as a deterrent to the company.

It found that while specially equipped Google vehicles took city snapshots between 2008 and 2010 for its Street View function, which supplements its standard map service, they had also picked up data from unsecured wireless networks.

"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," the Hamburg authorities said in a statement.

Unintentional?

Google said it unintentionally collected data including emails, passwords and photos.

Google has said it never intended to store the personal data, which had been captured in 2008-10, while the company gathered material for its Street View service.

The information has since been deleted, the data protection agency said.

'Not authorised'

Under European regulations, the maximum fine for an accidental violation is 150,000 euros - but data protection supervisor Johannes Caspar called for that amount to be increased in 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."

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