State gets money from Google Street View settlement

google street view boston
Data collected for Google’s Street View cost the company some money.
Credit: Google Street View

Massachusetts will receive more than $300,000 as part of a multi-state settlement with Google over the company’s inappropriate data collection during work on its Street View service.

The $7 million settlement includes 37 other states and Washington, D.C., said Attorney General Martha Coakley in an announcement of the settlement Tuesday. Massachusetts will receive more than $327,000. 

The payment settles claims that the California-based company collected data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide while taking photographs for its Street View service over a two-year period. Street View cars were equipped with antennae and open-source software that collected Wi-Fi network identification information for future geoloaction services. At the same time, according to Coakley’s office, Google collected and stored data frames and other “payload data” being transmitted over the unsecured business and personal wireless networks.

Google said it was unaware of the data being collected, but also said that it may have included the URLs of requested websites, partial or complete e-mail communications and any confidential or private information being transmitted to or from the network user while the Street View cars were driving down streets.

Coakley’s office said that Google has since disabled or removed the equipment and software used to collect the data. It also agreed that he data was not used, and will not be used, in any product or service, and that information collected in the United States was not disclosed to a third party. The company will also be required to run for at least 10 years at raining program for employees about privacy and confidentiality of user data.

“This hard-fought settlement recognizes and protects the privacy rights of people whose information was collected without their permission,” Coakley said in a statement.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



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