Feeds

German watchdog whacks Google with PIDDLING FINE over Street View slurp

'Discount rate' punishment won't deter ad giant, rages Hamburg commish

Top three mobile application threats

Google has been fined just €145,000 for the unauthorised, "negligent" slurp of payload data its fleet of Street View cars captured from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks in Hamburg, Germany.

Regulatory offence proceedings were undertaken by the Hamburg data watchdog in November last year leading to a penalty being imposed on the ad giant today.

"In my estimation this is one of the most serious cases of violation of data protection regulations that have come to light so far," said Hamburg's information commissioner Johannes Caspar.

"Google did cooperate in the clarification thereof and publicly admitted having behaved incorrectly. It had never been the intention to store personal data, Google said.

"But the fact that this nevertheless happened over such a long period of time and to the wide extent established by us allows only one conclusion: that the company internal control mechanisms failed seriously."

However, the commissioner's office complained that the sanctions provided by Germany's Data Protection Act were, in effect, laughable by describing the punishment for such breaches as "totally inadequate".

It explained that the watchdog can only fine a multinational up to €150,000 for negligence, or up to €300,000 for intentional breaches of data protection law in Germany.

Caspar griped that Google and other companies that break the rules were punished with "discount rates" making the likelihood of potential abuse of the legislation much higher.

He added that a rewrite of the current data protection law proposed by Brussels' Justice commissioner Viviane Reding - where corporations can be slapped with maximum fines set at 2 per cent of a company's annual revenue - would be welcomed as a better deterrent to such violations.

Google said it would not dispute the fine. The company's privacy counsel Peter Fleischer added: "We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue. The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it. We cooperated fully with the Hamburg DPA throughout its investigation."

Last month, Google reached a peanut-sized $7m settlement with 38 US states, after its controversial Street View cars collected payload data including emails and passwords from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks across America.

Here in the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office re-opened its own investigation of Google's Street View tech in June 2012 after the Federal Communications Commission in the US concluded that it seemed "likely that such information was deliberately captured" by the prowling surveillance vehicles.

The ICO told The Register in March that its investigation was "ongoing", but added that it was yet to decide if any further action would be taken against Google. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?
Wait 'til this one hits your pension fund where it hurts
Systems meltdown plunges US immigration courts into pen-and-paper stone age
Massive outage could last four weeks, sources claim
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.