Google has been fined €145,000 for the collection of WiFi data in Germany. You might remember, back in 2010, when Google admitted that it had unintentionally harvested WiFi data from open routers using its Google Street View cars. The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information imposed a fine on Google for what it calls the illegal recording of WiFi networks.
Google's 2010 mistake was only discovered when the German Data Protection Authority asked to audit the WiFi data collected by the Google Street View team. Google said that up until the time of the audit, it had been under the impression that it was only collecting MAC addresses and SSID information. However, the audit showed that Google had been collected fragments of payload data from open WiFi networks. Data collected by Google included emails and web addresses users were viewing.
Hamburg's data protection commissioner said Google's collection of the data was confirmed following an evaluation of copies of the data provided by Google during an investigation, adding that Google had collected emails, photos, passwords and chat protocols. At the time of the mistake, Google said that it would be deleting all of this extra data and that a third party would be brought in to ensure this was done in the correct manner. However, an investigation was started by Hamburg’s Department of Public Prosecutions and later continued by the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in the context of regulatory offense proceedings.
The office of the Data Protection Commissioner today announced that those proceedings had come to an end, culminating in the decision that Google had 'negligently and without authorization captured and stored personal data." As such, Google has been fined and ordered to delete the data. The deletion of the data has already been confirmed by the data commissioner.