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Google Fined in Germany Over Street View Collection of Personal Data

By Evan Niu, CFA - Apr 22, 2013 at 10:59AM

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Google to pay $190,000; German commissioner decries rules that cap fines at low amounts.

Following a $7 million settlement last month related to a long-standing Street View Wi-Fi case involving privacy concerns in the U.S., Google (GOOGL -1.38%) has now been fined in Germany by regulators for the same thing.

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information fined the search giant approximately $190,000 for "illegal" recording of Wi-Fi networks, according to a statement issued today.

The data collection occurred between 2008 and 2010 when Google captured personal data on wireless networks within range of its Street View vehicles that took pictures of surrounding areas. Google cooperated with regulators during the investigation, according to the commissioner, and turned over its data for inspection. Regulators found a large amount of personal data, and Google was instructed to delete its illegally collected data.

Commissioner Johannes Caspar called it "one of the most serious cases of violation of data protection regulations that have come to light so far," but noted that Google admitted wrongdoing and said it was unintentional. Caspar said Google's internal control mechanisms failed. Caspar also said cases like this one "make it clear that the sanctions provided for by the Federal Data Protection Act are totally inadequate for the punishment of such serious breaches of data protection" and are unlikely to act as a deterrent.

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