France's data protection regulator has fined Google &euros;100,000 for collecting private data from WiFi when its cars gathered footage for its on-line map service Street View.
The Commission nationale de l'information et des libertes (CNIL) today said that Google's tactics violated the French law. CNIL said that Google's cars were wirelessly collecting data (IDs, passwords, login details, email exchanges) as they were moving across the French streets.
CNIL told Google in May 2010 to stop the practice and asked it to turn over a copy of the information it had collected, but Google did not respond in a timely manner, according to CNIL. As a result, the French regulator on 17 March 2011 fined Google.
Google's problems with data collection within Street View started last year. Last May, Google disclosed that its Street View cars around the world had collected private data, such as emails and Internet surfing records, from unsecured wireless networks.
Google had apologized for mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks and that its WiFi data collection equipment had been removed from its cars in each country.
Street View provides photographs of neighborhoods taken by Google cameras. The service has been extremely controversial in Germany and other countries as privacy groups and authorities fear that people - filmed without their consent - might be photographed doing things they wouldn't want publicized.
Several countries have been investigating Google over the data collection, and there are growing concerns from regulators and consumer watchdogs worldwide that Google isn't serious enough about people's privacy - a charge the company denies.