John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

France to Google: Your CEO Is a Hamster and Your "Rogue Street View Engineer" Smells of Elderberries

grail.jpgIt’s a pittance to Google, but the $142,000 fine France’s data privacy regulator slapped the company with today for inadvertently harvesting consumer data with its Street View cars does set something of a precedent.

Meted out by France’s Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés, or CNIL, the sanction is the agency’s highest ever and the first penalty levied against Google for data collection practices that have drawn complaints from dozens of countries.

According to the CNIL, though Google pledged to erase all the private data it collected, it “has not refrained from using the data identifying Wi-Fi access points of individuals without their knowledge.” Worse, the company continues to collect data on Wi-Fi access points via smartphones accessing its Latitude service, without clearly disclosing that to Latitude users. And, as it has done in other countries, Google refused to grant access to software used to harvest and store the information or an interview with the “rogue engineer” it claims is responsible for the whole debacle.

Google, of course, continues to play the penitent. “As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks,” Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer said in yet another variation of the same statement the company has been issuing for nearly a year now.

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