Google coughs up €1 million over privacy breach in Italy

Google has paid a €1 million ($1.4 million) fine to Italy’s privacy regulator over its Street View program, though not for the usual reasons. Unlike with other Street View-related fines in places like Germany and South Korea in which it turned out that the company’s street-snapping cars were also scooping up fragments of information from people’s Wi-Fi routers. This time, it was all about the vehicles’ appearance – people complained that the Street View cars were not sufficiently identifiable, so they didn’t know when the photography was in action.

Google’s Street View cars have made it their business to share every detail about the places they visit — but they’ve been less than forthcoming about alerting people to their presence, according to Italy’s data watchdog. The regulator, Garante per la protezione dei dati personali, announced on Thursday that Google had paid a €1m fine relating to the practices of its Street View vehicles. The data protection authority (DPA) said in 2010 “cars belonging to the Mountain View giant roamed Italy’s streets without being entirely recognisable as such, therefore the people present in those places were not able to decide whether or not to be photographed”. The amount of the fine was calculated by taking into account Google’s “consolidated revenues of over $50bn”, the DPA said. “The fine from the DPA relates to an old case that dates back to 2010. We complied with everything the DPA required from us at the time,” a Google spokesman told ZDNet. Google paid the fine a few weeks ago, the DPA said on Thursday.

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