PDT Staff Writer
A court has ruled your privacy overrides an internet services company’s collection of data. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Wednesday joined 37 states and the District of Columbia in a $7 million settlement with Google over its collection of data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide while taking photographs for its Street View service between 2008 and March 2010. Ohio is expected to receive $162,000.
“Each day it becomes increasingly important that we do what we can to safeguard our personal information,” DeWine said. “While we all must do what we can to safeguard our own personal information, this settlement recognizes the privacy rights of individuals and serves as a reminder that this information cannot be collected without a person’s permission.”
Google’s Street View cars were equipped with antennae and open-source software that the company acknowledged collected network identification information for use in future geolocation services. At the same time, while capturing images for its Street View service, Google collected and stored data being transmitted over those unsecured business and personal wireless networks.
DeWine said while Google represented it was unaware the data was being collected, the assurance of voluntary compliance it signed with the states Wednesday acknowledged the data or information collected may have included addresses of requested web pages, partial or complete e-mail communications and any confidential or private information being transmitted to or from the network user while the Street View cars were driving by.
Google has since disabled or removed the equipment and software used to collect the kind of data specified in the settlement from its Street View vehicles, and agreed not to collect any additional information without notice and consent.
The information collected was segregated and secured, and under terms of the agreement, will be destroyed as soon as legally practicable. Further, Google agreed that the data was not used, and will not be used, in any product or service, and that the information collected in the United States was not disclosed to a third party.
Other key elements of the agreement require Google to run an employee training program about privacy and confidentiality of user data and continue the program for at least 10 years. It must also conduct a public service advertising campaign to help educate consumers about steps they may take to better secure their personal information while using wireless networks.
Other states participating in the settlement are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
A copy of the settlement can be found on the Ohio Attorney General’s website. The funds received by Ohio will be placed in the Consumer Protection Enforcement Fund.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at email@example.com.