Google pays state $133K after ‘street view’ vehicles collect private citizens' Wi-Fi data

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 12:31pm

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office announced today it has received a $133,528 payment from search engine giant Google in a court agreement stemming from alleged Tennessee Consumer Protection Act violations.

Thirty-seven states, including Tennessee and the District of Columbia, were involved in the “voluntary assurance of compliance.” Google agreed to pay a total of $7 million to all the states.

Google collected personal and private data while creating their “Street View” function on Google Maps from 2008 to 2010. According to the settlement, the vehicles tasked to create Street View picked up data from Wi-Fi networks in addition to the visual imagery associated with the feature.

Google terminated the data upon discovery, never used it for a product service and didn’t transmit the data to any third parties. As part of the settlement, Google has also agreed to enhance privacy training for employees and create a video for the public on how to protect Wi-Fi connections.

“We are pleased Google recognizes consumers’ right to privacy and will no longer collect information during its Street View photography without their permission,” said Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper.

“I strongly encourage Tennesseans to take more proactive steps to secure their personal wireless Internet connection to avoid any other similar privacy intrusions.”

2 Comments on this post:

By: grid on 3/13/13 at 9:39

As an I/T and computer network person, I can say without a doubt that Google should have configured their collection system better. I have a passive wireless packet scanner running at home & even in the boonies where I live, I get scanned several times a week by "wardrivers".

Having said that, I agree with AG Cooper. Fortunately, most home wireless routers can be setup securely with minimal effort these days.

By: d4deli on 3/14/13 at 8:47

So, if as a homeowner with a wifi signal, how much of that money am I entitiled to?
Oh, the State gets it on my behalf? Interesting.
The more technological we get, the more we will see suits like this.