Google Street View car

Google Street View car. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia/Commons

Search and technology giant Google has been fined €145,000 by the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information for illegally accessing and recording data from unencrypted WiFi networks in the country with its Street View vehicles.

The German regulators called the breach “one of the most serious cases of violation of data protection” in their country’s history, although the size of the fine will not eat too notably into Google’s annual profits of $3.9 billion.

Google has admitted their breach, which included downloading large quantities of personal data including email, photos, and passwords, but the level of the fine has left German prosecutors unsatisfied. Currently the maximum fine for data protection breaches is €150,000, with this Google’s fine for illegal data gathering nearing the full amount, and does not act as a deterrent to large firms.

In contrast to these numbers, the future European General Protection Regulations currently being discussed would offer fines of up to 2% of a company’s turnover, and as such would be a deterrent no matter the size of firm involved.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi,
    Google Fined for Illegal Data Gathering by Street View Cars in Germany. It’s ironic the Google’s Mr. Schmidt warns about drones with his Google maps and earth, Governments should consider cultural copyright notwithstanding the surveillance impediments of sensitive installations.