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13 March 2013, 15:13

Google to pay $7 million fine for Wi-Fi sniffing

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Google Privacy/Security Google's harvesting of information from consumer Wi-Fi using equipment installed in its Street View cars between 2008 and 2010 was a violation of privacy, the company admitted in a settlement which sees it being fined $7 million. As part of the settlementPDF, between Google and 38 US states, Google will implement a privacy program that will run for at least the next ten years to educate new employees on the subject and to refresh existing employees on privacy issues, and will hold an annual "Privacy Week" inside the company.

The Wi-Fi sniffing was alleged to be the work of Marius Milner, Google employee and previously author of the popular wardriving software NetStumbler. The settlement sheds no light on that allegation, but a previous reportPDF covered the technical details. Google is to delete the payload data that it gathered and report to the State's Attorney Generals that it has done so.

The company will also have to create a YouTube video on the value of encrypting wireless networks and how to set up wireless encryption. It will then have to advertise that video daily through online advertising. The $7 million fine will be divided up between the 38 states; the fine is small in comparison to the $22.5 million fine levied by the FTC in August 2012 for over-riding the Safari browser's cookie protection. The fine is, however, large when compared to the previous $25,000 fine in this case levied by the FCC after an earlier investigation.


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