Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Google & AGs Hash Out Street View Privacy Settlement

Google Appliance as shown at RSA Expo 2008 in ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pending court approval, Google, Inc., has settled the Street View-inspired invasion of privacy case brought by the Attorneys General of 38 states.

According to reports in The New York Times and Wall St. Journal, the San Francisco-based social platform colossus will pay a $7 million fine for its street map project transgressions, in which Google vehicles equipped with antennas and software captured private network id data, including passwords and email, payload data and data frames from unencrypted wireless networks of residences and businesses.

Besides the $7 million penalty, which the company is likely to earn back in the time it takes "TUOL" to complete this post, under the proposed settlement, Google must promote a nationwide campaign to inform consumers about how to protect personal data and secure wireless networks, educate its employees concerning user data confidentiality, observe protocols to protect Street View data collected from 2008 to 2010, produce a YouTube video informing viewers how to encrypt wireless network data that it must promote in daily ads for two years and take out educational ads in the largest newspapers in the 38 affected states. The company must, within six months of the settlement, implement an internal privacy program.

Google's "rap sheet" continues to grow. Last year, the company was fined $22.5 million by the FTC for circumventing the Safari browser's privacy settings (see "TUOL" post 2/21/12), and paid the FCC $25,000 for obstructing the agency's investigation of the Street View data grab. In 2011, Google agreed to be audited for a 20-year period by the FTC after admitting employing deceptive tactics when it launched the Buzz social network. Looming large as the next privacy battleground is Google Glass, computer eyewear that potentially could eavesdrop on individuals' private interactions. Hard to say whether the 15-year-old Google is just displaying adolescent rambunctiousness or full-blown juvenile delinquency.

Led by then-Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the multi-state probe of Street View began in June 2010 (see "TUOL" post 10/16/10).
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