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

Everett engineers learn lessons from Mexico City catastrophe

Structural scientists went to help after the September earthquake there and studied the damage.

DaVita to sell off medical groups including The Everett Clinic

Another round of health care consolidation means The Everett Clinic could soon get new ownership.

Engine trouble hits Air New Zealand’s 787 Dreamliners

A Rolls-Royce engine was shut down and was afterward found to be seriously damaged.

The Marine Corps’ version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is designed to land vertically like a helicopter. (Lockheed Martin)
F-35 fighter costs, $1 trillion over 60 years, draw scrutiny

Pentagon’s ability to repair F-35 parts at military depots is six years behind schedule.

Incidents of severe disturbances on commercial flights climb

The number of cases in which the cabin crew had to restrain a passenger rose to 169 last year.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company’s new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Funko starts to bounce back after disappointing stock debut

The Everett toys-and-collectibles maker also announced the acquisition of an animation studio.

Now hiring: Younger factory workers, at Boeing and elsewhere

The company and its training partners are fighting perceptions of a dying manufacturing industry.

‘The President Stole Your Land’: Patagonia, REI blast Trump

The outdoor recreation industry is allied with Indian tribes and conservationists.

A recruiter from a driller in the shale gas industry (left), speaks with an attendee at a job fair in Cheswick, Pennsylvania, in November. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
A stronger global economy is helping boost the US job market

In November, U.S. employers added a substantial 228,000 jobs, the Labor Department says.

Most Read