Report: Google to pay $7 million to 30 states to settle Wi-Fi spying investigation
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
Google is on the verge of paying $7 million to settle charges from some 30 states surrounding the collection of private data from the Wi-Fi networks of unsuspecting Americans, according to a report. This sum would be less than a drop in the bucket for Google.
Google’s entire business model is based on invading privacy in some quite disturbing ways and their tight relationship with the government has only expanded in recent years. Paying relatively nothing to make states forget about one of the more egregious privacy breaches in recent history is hardly surprising coming from Google.
Previously, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) essentially cleared Google of wrongdoing over the massive breach of privacy and instead fined the company a mere $25,000 for deliberately impeding and delaying the investigation. The decision was made even though a judge said they could be held liable for violating federal wiretapping legislation.
It’s worth noting that according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), as of 2012 at least 9 countries found Google guilty of violating their laws while 12 countries conducted investigations.
The $7 million would be split among the 30 or so states involved in the investigation, according to an unnamed source familiar with the matter.
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s spokesperson told All Things Digital, “Our only comment about Google Street View is the investigation is active and ongoing.
The investigation, which began in 2010, was launched by then-Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is now a Democratic senator for Connecticut.
The incident began in 2007 and stretched into 2010 when Google cars taking pictures for the Street View project drove through neighborhoods stealing data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in the process.
Much of the information stolen from the networks was incredibly private, including passwords, Internet activity and other sensitive personal information.
“For more than two years, Google’s Street View cars collected names, addresses, telephone numbers, URLs, passwords, email, text messages, medical records, video and audio files, and other information from internet users in the United States,” an FCC report said.
Initially, Google claimed the data collection was entirely unintentional but later they changed their position and claimed it was the result of an engineer working alone and without permission.
Even that is apparently false as I pointed out last year in writing, “The unnamed engineer behind the collection of information from wireless networks told a senior manager and at least one other colleague about the plans before it was released.
“We work hard to get privacy right at Google,” a company spokesman told Hillicon Valley. “But in this case we didn’t, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue.”
The spokesman declined to comment on the possible settlement.
If the sum cited in the report is correct, each state would get less than $250,000 and it is unclear how this would be used to ensure similar incidents do not occur in the future or how this would compensate those who had their personal information stolen by Google.
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