Italy Fines Google €1m Over Street View Gaffe

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Italy hands out one of the stiffest European fines to Google over its StreetView cars

Google continues to face fines in Europe after its Street View cars collected personal Wi-Fi data back in 2010.

Italy became the latest European country to fine the search engine giant over the matter, when that country’s privacy watchdog imposed a 1 million euro (£825,890) fine for the mistake.

Italian Fine

Some countries, most notably France and Germany, opted to impose a financial penalty (£82,589 and £119,754 respectively) over the matter. In the United States, Google reportedly paid a $7 million (£4.2m) settlement to end the US government’s probe into Street View, after it had already been fined $25,000 (£15,000) by the Federal Communications Commission.

This is in marked contrast to the UK, when in June last year Google avoided a fine after an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigation. The ICO said at the time that the punishment would have been “far worse” if the payload data had not been “contained”.

The Italian fine meanwhile is one of Google’s stiffest European fines so far, but the watchdog’s central complaint about Google is somewhat different from other country’s concerns.

Label Complaint

streetviewourneighboursThe Italian watchdog reportedly said that Google’s Street View cars, which it used to record images on Italian streets in 2010, were not clearly recognisable.

“Cars belonging to [Google] roamed Italy’s streets without being entirely recognisable as such, therefore not allowing the people present in those places to decide whether to be photographed or not,” Reuters quoted the Watchdog as saying in a statement.

Thus the Italian fine relates to the fact that Google’s Street View cars were not labelled clearly enough, and not about the Wi-Fi data capture itself. Italy has also apparently reported Google to judicial authorities over the Wi-Fi data capture, which could mean further sanction for the search engine giant.

“The fine from the DPA relates to an old case that dates back to 2010. We complied with everything the (regulator) required of us at the time,” a Google spokeswoman told Reuters.

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