Belgium Says Google Broke Privacy Law, Offers Cash Settlement

google-street-view-logo-oldGoogle is considering a settlement offer from federal prosecutors in Belgium who say the company broke national privacy laws when it collected personal data from unsecured WiFi networks via its Street View vehicles.

According to Bloomberg, prosecutors have offered Google a €150,000 penalty (currently about $215,000 USD) for the gaffe that Google has repeatedly said was accidental. Google has three months to accept the penalty; if it doesn’t, prosecutors may take the case to court, where Google could face higher fines and perhaps even time in prison.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the settlement offer and told Bloomberg, “We have to study it carefully.”

Belgium was slow to investigate Google’s data collection, having only launched its investigation earlier this year. Many other countries have already completed investigations and found that Google violated their privacy laws. But so far, France’s €100,000 fine in March is the only actual penalty Google has faced.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US | Google: Street View

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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