Google will pay a fine of $7 million dollars in a new snooping scandal that has affected 37 states and the District of Columbia. Using the Street View program company employees “casually scooped up passwords, e-mail, and other personal information from unsuspecting computer users” between 2008 and 2010 while driving around taking photos of houses and buildings to populate their “Street View” maps, according to David Streitfeld of the New York Times.
Google blamed the breach of privacy on a rogue code mistakenly included in the software that was only supposed to collect basic information on the location of the people using its maps. The company claims no wrongdoing and said, “The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn’t use it or even look at it”. Google adamantly denies the code was intentional and argues that they did not use any of the information. Whether you believe their claims or not is up to you. Either way, consumers were unaware that their wireless networks were being tapped and sensitive information such as emails, search history, and passwords were being collected by these Street View cars. This is a violation of privacy and makes us wonder what other questionable practices the company is involved in.
As a part of the agreement, Google must destroy all of the data that was collected by the Street View program. The company must also host a training session for its employees every year for a decade on privacy issues. This includes an “annual privacy week” event, which they may be hesitant to share details on. They are also required to launch ad campaigns to educate consumers on how to encrypt their WiFi networks to secure their information against the same type of breach of privacy the company has admitted responsibility for. As far as the fine, 7 million dollars is chump change to Google considering their daily net income of 32 million and the 15 million in bonuses they will pay to 4 of their CEOs this year. Considering their ability to pay out huge bonuses, maybe they could have used some of that money to make sure there were no mistakes in code. That’s just our opinion, though. Do you think the fine is a fair deal?