The Street Way

German state fines Google for Street View data breach

FRANKFURT(Reuters) - A German privacy regulator has fined Google for illegally recording signals from WiFi  Networks while it was taking photographs for its Street View service.

Google's roving Street View vans picked up large amount of personal data such as e-mails, passwords , photos and online chat protocols , said the commissioner for data protection  and freedom of information in Hamburg city state , Johannes Caspar.

Caspar fined Google 145,000 euro($189,7000), close to the maximum of 150,000 euros allowed  under his mandate but a drop in the ocean for the top search engine provider, which has a stock  market value of around  $260 billion.

"Cases like this 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," the commissioner said in a statement.

Google said it would not appeal the fine .

The history of the Nazi Gestapo and East Germany's Stasi secret police has left many Germans especially wary  of invasions of privacy.

Google said that it received more than 244,000 requests  two years ago for it to delete their homes from Street View, which allows users to take virtual "walks" along streets using their computers.

Caspar said Google had confirmed that from 2008 until 2010 it not only took pictures of houses for Street view but also scanned  wireless network within range and stored the data .

Google has deleted the data it collected, the regulator said in its statement.

"This is one of the most serious cases of violation of data protection regulations that have come to light so far," Caspar said.

He said Google that had told him it never intended to store personal data .

"But the fact that this nevertheless happened over such a long  period of time , and to the wide extent we have established , allows for only one conclusion: that the company's internal control mechanisms failed seriously," said Caspar.

Google"s global privacy right at Google,' he said ." But in this case we didn't , which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue."

Last year, Caspar investigated  Facebook 's  policies on retaining and deleting data and the level of  control users  have over their information . The probe was closed this year after Facebook changed its policies.

 ( Reporting by Herro ten  Wolde; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)


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