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Google hands over $1.4m for unmarked Street View cars in Italy

Oh SNAP! They thought you were just motorists – regulator

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Google has paid up on a million euro fine ($1.4m) from Italy's data protection regulator imposed because its Street View cars weren't recognisable enough to the people they were taking photos of.

"The disputed facts date back to 2010 when the giant of Mountain View's cars roamed the streets without being perfectly recognisable and not allowing, in this way, the people in the paths of "Google Cars" to decide whether or not to avoid being photographed," the watchdog said in a statement (translated with the help of Google Translate).

The Italian Data Protection Authority said that it had also instructed Google to make the cars taking photos for its Street View service more easily identifiable by putting signs or stickers on them and to publish the locations it would be visiting on its website three days before it started snapping images there and in local media. It added that the Chocolate Factory had promptly adopted these measures.

It's not the first fine Google has faced over Street View, a service that has raised the privacy hackles of a number of folks in the US and Europe. Aside from the issue of what the Street View pictures could show, there's also the pesky matter of all that Wi-Fi data slurping.

The Street View scandal kicked off in 2010 when the cars were found to be gathering data from local Wi-Fi networks, which Google has claimed was accidental. The firm could still face penalties in Italy over the snooping, as the current fine only covers the fact that its cars weren't recognisable.

Mountain View is also locked in legal battles in the US, where it has applied to have a lawsuit over the issue heard by the US Supreme Court for a final decision. Google is hoping to overturn a decision by the Court of Appeals denying the company protection under a portion of the US Wiretap Act, which lets folks off for listening in on radio transmissions. ®

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