States join Investigation into Google Street View’s Unlawful Collection of personal information
AUSTIN -- Texas, 37 other states, and the District of Columbia today resolved their lengthy investigation into Google Inc.’s collection of personal information -- including e-mail and search histories -- from unsecured wireless routers at private residences and businesses.
Although Google initially denied that its Street View vehicles were retrieving this private information, the Mountain View, Calif.-based conglomerate subsequently acknowledged that it had “mistakenly” engaged in this practice. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott provided this statement about the agreement negotiated by the states:
“For two years, Google violated Texans’ privacy rights and secretly collected personal information from their wireless routers. Today’s agreement requires Google to destroy any personal data that was improperly collected and imposes important new privacy protections that govern the Street View program going forward.”
Google’s data collection effort was tied to its Street View project, which sought to enhance its Google Maps platform by deploying a fleet of vehicles nationwide to photograph residences, businesses and other improvements in municipal neighborhoods. Unbeknownst to the residents and business owners whose properties were photographed, Google’s Street View vehicles were outfitted with specialized data collection devices that also scanned and stored payload data from wireless networks that were not password protected.
Initially, Google maintained that no emails, Web search histories or other personal information was being collected by Street View vehicles -- and that the collected information was limited to data that merely identified the existence and location of a wireless network.
The State’s investigation subsequently revealed that despite assertions to the contrary, Google collected private information that was transmitted over unencrypted WiFi networks for two years. Although information transmitted on these wireless networks was collected from 2010 to 2012, Google represented that it had not intended to collect and store network users’ private payload data.
Under today’s agreement, Google must pay $7 million and comply with following requirements:
• Destroy the “payload data” it collected;
• Notify network users and obtain their consent before using its Street View vehicles to collect any additional “payload data”;
• Implement an employee training program that highlights network users’ privacy and maintain the training program for the next 10 years; and
• Develop a public service campaign to educate network users about how to better secure their personal information while they are using wireless networks.
Attorney General Abbott urged Texans to protect their privacy by securing their home computer systems and activating encryption features to make sure that transmitted information is scrambled.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Breaking News Archives
TxDOT reopens I-35 north of Georgetown (March 27, 2015)
SAPD searches for robbery suspect (March 26, 2015)
F.M. 3191 closed in Karnes County (March 25, 2015)
No injuries in Floresville bus crash (March 24, 2015)
Flash flood warning for Karnes, southeastern Wilson counties until 8:45 a.m. (March 21, 2015)
Latest from Wilson County Garden Day (March 20, 2015)
Wilson, Atascosa, Bexar, surrounding counties under flash flood watch (March 20, 2015)
Weekend cancellations due to bad weather (March 19, 2015)
Senate passes open carry gun bill (March 17, 2015)
Wilson County Garden Day is March 21 (March 17, 2015)
Joint statements issued on evolving role in Alamo management (March 12, 2015)
Wilson County residents report 'explosion' noise (March 12, 2015)
U.S. 87 closed north of Nixon (March 10, 2015)
Flash flood watch (March 9, 2015)
Officials charge McQueeney man in Guadalupe County shootings (March 9, 2015)
Rainfall report: March 3-9 (March 9, 2015)
DPS Increases Spring Break DWI Enforcement (March 6, 2015)
Search continues for Guadalupe County gunman (March 6, 2015)
UPDATE: Officials release sketch of suspected Guadalupe County gunman (March 5, 2015)
Bexar County officials seek help in identifying human remains (March 4, 2015)
Dump truck overturns south of La Vernia (March 4, 2015)
Texas AG Responds to Administration Request to Stay Executive Amnesty Ruling (March 4, 2015)
Body found in creek near Stockdale (March 3, 2015)
Public’s Help Needed to Find Child Possibly Exposed to Rabies in Austin (March 3, 2015)