Google pays EU fine for Street View breaches

LUXEMBOURG – Google paid a $1.37 million fine in Italy after the local regulator found its Street View cars drove incognito across the country, violating the privacy of citizens caught on camera without their knowledge.

It’s Google’s largest penalty yet after a series of clashes with data privacy regulators across the 28-nation European Union. Street View cars have also triggered fines for collecting data from unrestricted wireless connections to gather people’s personal communications.

The owner of the world’s biggest Internet search engine, which had about $60 billion in cash at the end of last year, already took steps to make its Street View cars more easily identifiable and to alert people that the mapping service’s cars plan to pass through their neighborhood, the Italian regulator said Friday.

Google cars “roamed the streets of Italy without being perfectly recognizable,” so people didn’t have the opportunity to “decide whether or not they want to be omitted from these captured images,” Italy’s data privacy regulator said. The “illegally collected data was destined for a large database of particular importance.”

The Italian penalty “relates to an old case that dates back to 2010,” said Al Verney, a Brussels-based spokesman for Google. “We complied with everything” the authority “required of us at the time.”

The Italian fine surpasses a December penalty by Spanish regulators over Google’s collection of personal information on its users without in many cases explaining what data it collected and what it used it for.

France’s data watchdog made Google pay 100,000 euros in 2011 for Street View privacy lapses. The Hamburg privacy regulator last year fined Google 145,000 euros for collecting wireless-network data from 2008 to 2010.

The EU is seeking to empower national agencies to go beyond current penalties that are more symbolic than punitive for global companies such as Google.

Lawmakers are weighing proposals paving the way for fines of as much as 100 million euros or 5 percent of yearly global sales for privacy violations.

More in Herald Business Journal

Delta’s farewell tour for the Boeing 747 stops in Everett

It is the last domestic airline to retire the iconic plane. Boeing and Delta employees autographed it.

Sign of the future: Snohomish business aims to reshape industry

Manifest Signs owner thinks that smart signs is an unexplored and untapped part of his industry.

Boeing says Bombardier dumping puts 737 planes in jeopardy

“If you don’t level the playing field now, it will be too late.”

Snohomish County’s campaign to land the 797 takes off

Executive Dave Somers announced the formation of a task force to urge Boeing to build the plane here.

A decade after the recession, pain and fear linger

No matter how good things are now, it’s impossible to forget how the collapse affected people.

Panel: Motorcycle industry in deep trouble and needs help

They have failed to increase sales by making new riders out of women, minorities and millennials.

Costco rises as results display big-box retailer’s resiliency

Their model has worked in the face of heightened competition from online, brick-and-mortar peers.

China’s Huawei to expand in US smartphone market next year

Officials expressed confidence the smartphone business wouldn’t be affected by security concerns.

Group sees ‘18 tax cuts across all incomes, biggest for rich

The nonpartisan group released its figures a day before the House is expected to approve the tax bill.

Most Read