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France Fines Google $142,000 Over Street View

March 21, 2011

France’s data privacy regulator said on Monday that Google would be fined $142,000 for the private information it collected while compiling its Street View service.

“It is a record fine since we obtained the power in 2004 to impose financial sanctions in 2004,” the head of the CNIL regulator, Yann Padova, was quoted as saying in the daily Le Parisien.

Google launched its Street View service in 2007, but its arrival in Europe sparked controversy over privacy concerns.

Google admitted in 2010 that its specially equipped cars taking the Street View photographs also picked up Wi-Fi data and had inadvertently captured unencrypted private data including emails, web browsing histories and online banking details.

CNIL, France’s National Commission for Information Freedom, said that the Internet giant has promised to erase all the private data, but that it found “that Google has not refrained from using the data identifying Wi-Fi access points of individuals without their knowledge.”

CNIL said it decided to fine Google because it constituted “unfair collection” of information under French law and it had received economic benefits from the data.

“As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks,” said Google’s lawyer for privacy issues, Peter Fleischer.

“Deleting the data has always been our priority, and we’re happy the CNIL has given permission for us to do so,” he added in a statement.

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