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Google cops €100k French spank in Street View slurp outrage

'Sought dominant position' as it violated

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French privacy watchdogs have hit Google with its very first fine for allowing its Street View cars to snoop on citizens' Wi-Fi data.

The search giant must pay a €100,000 (£87,114) fine for improperly gathering and storing data for its Street View application.

The privacy regulator CNIL (Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés) said it had carried out spot checks to see if Street View was following French law.

The regulator said: "These inspections revealed various violations such as collecting Wi-Fi data without the knowledge of those concerned and the capture of data described as 'content' (IDs, passwords, login details, email exchanges)."

The regulator asked Google to sort things out in May 2010. It was fined for failing to react in a timely manner.

France also accused Google of already using the data collected to improve its geo-location database and "acquire a dominant position in the field..."

The regulator is the first in the world to get a complete copy of information Google's Street View cars slurped up.

CNIL said: "In addition to technical data (SSID identifiers and MAC addresses of Wi-Fi access points), lots of data about individuals, identified or identifiable (data connection to websites, passwords, email, email addresses, including email exchanges revealing sensitive information about sexual orientation or health)."

Street View is being investigated by Czech, German and US regulators.

In the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office said late last year it was very pleased Google had promised not to continue collecting payload data and to improve its data-handling processes.

The search giant also promised to delete payload information collected in the UK.

The CNIL privacy statement on Street View is here, or here via Google Translate. ®

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