Google fined €100k by French data protection authority

France's privacy watchdog, the CNIL, has fined the search giant over its treatment of Wi-Fi data that was improperly collected by its Street View cars

Google has been fined by the French data protection authority over personal Wi-Fi data collected through the search company's Street View car project.

Google Street View car

Google has been been fined by the French data protection agency CNIL over its harvesting of Wi-Fi data. Photo credit: Byrion on Flickr

On Monday the CNIL (Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés), the French equivalent of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the UK, said it was levying the €100,000 (£87,000) fine because Google had not stopped using the data it had collected through the project, which involves cars photographing streets to enhance Google Maps.

The CNIL said Google was not responding quickly enough to privacy-related requests, adding that the company had not complied with a request to provide the element of the cars' software that resulted in the data collection. Google has always said it never meant to gather details of people's routers, emails and passwords, and has blamed this harvesting on rogue experimental code.

In a separate statement on Monday, Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said the company was "profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks".

Deleting the data has always been our priority, and we're happy the CNIL has given permission for us to do so.

– Peter Fleischer, Google

"As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities," Fleischer said. "Deleting the data has always been our priority, and we're happy the CNIL has given permission for us to do so."

In the UK, the ICO found Google in breach of data protection laws in November, but refused to fine it as it said the company had not caused serious harm.

On Thursday, European justice commissioner Viviane Reding said national data protection authorities' response to the Wi-Fi-sniffing scandal had been ineffectual and inconsistent.

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