Dutch Agency Orders Google To Remove Data About Citizens’ WiFi Routers

Dutch data officials have ordered Google to give the country's residents a way to remove data that Google has about where their WiFi routers are located. It's part of the ongoing dispute over Google's collection of personal information via unencrypted wifi networks -- something the company has said all along was accidental. According to the Associated Press, Google has already deleted the data that it collected in The Netherlands (as it's also done in some other countries). But the Dutch Data Protection Agency (DPA) says Google's knowledge and use of where those WiFi networks are located "s [...]

Google Has Stopped Street View Photography In Germany

In most locations, Google sends its Street View cars out on a repeated basis "to make sure the information is accurate and kept up to date," as the Street View website explains. But that's not happening in Germany. Despite the recent German court ruling that declared photography from streets legal in Germany, Google has stopped Street View photography there and says it has "no plans to launch new imagery on Street View in Germany." A Google spokesperson says the company's priorities have changed: Our business priority is to use our Google cars to collect data such as street names and [...]

Swiss Court Demands 100% Anonymity In Google Street View Photographs

street-view-car-featured A Swiss court says Google must make sure all faces and license plates are blurred on Google Street View, even if Google has to blur them by hand. That's one of several pieces of the Swiss Federal Administrative Court decision handed down today, and the one that's likely causing the most disappointment at Google. The company's automated blurring technology blurs about 98-99% of faces and license plates, and Google recently argued that manual blurring of all Street View imagery would be prohibitively expensive. (Imagine, for example, if other countries followed suit with a similar demand [...]

German Court OKs Google Street View Imagery In “Landmark Decision”

German publication Deutsche Welle is reporting that a Berlin court has vindicated Google Street View operation in Germany. In late 2010 Street View went live in Oberstaufen, a small town in Bavaria. Subsequently it was rolled out in 20 major cities throughout Germany. Around the same time a German woman sued Google claiming that Street View images of her house violated her property and privacy rights. The court disagreed. According to Deutsche Welle the court found that photography from the street is legal in Germany and not a violation of property rights: The court ruled that it is [...]

Google Fined 100,000 Euros By French Privacy Regulator

According to wire service AFP, France's data privacy regulator has imposed a EUR 100,000 ($142,000) fine to punish Google for collecting private WiFi data via Street View in France. This is the first fine/penalty any country has levied against Google over the WiFi data collection. When it first occurred, Google acknowledged the data collection but said it was unintentional and pledged to destroy all private information collected. "We screwed up," Google co-founder Sergey Brin said at the time. According to the AFP article: CNIL, the National Commission for Information Freedom, said Goo [...]

Google Relaunches Street View Website

Google is revealing more about its sometimes controversial Street View product with an expanded web site that just launched today. The new site continues to show where Street View vehicles are currently active and educates people on how to use Street View's features. But there are new sections about the different Street View vehicles (cars, bikes, snowmobiles and a hand-pushed cart/trolley), as well as a non-technical explanation of how Google turns photos into Street View imagery. The new site also focuses on that imagery: the home page currently features a stunning photo of a botan [...]

Google’s Mayer: “We Do Have Too Many Products” In Local

Google Maps. Google Places. Google Earth. Google Hotpot. Google Latitude. Google Street View. Different mobile and desktop versions of some of those. Different Android and iPhone versions of some. The list could go on. If you think Google has too many locally-oriented products, you're not alone. Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Search who recently began focusing on the company's local efforts, agrees. "I think that, ultimately, we do have too many products and we need to condense them," Mayer said Friday at the SXSWi conference in Austin. "I think some of our products should be features. Ar [...]

Israel: Google Street View Will Be “Good For Tourism & Image”

If all goes according to plan, Google's Street View service should be driving through select cities in Israel soon and the photos could be online later this year. It'll be Street View's first move into the Middle East but, despite the obvious security concerns, the Israeli government says the service will be good for tourism and appears to be ready to let it launch with what one interested observer calls a "minimalist approach" to security issues. About two weeks ago, a committee led by Israel Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor announced plans to cooperate with Google to bring Street View [...]

Google At Loggerheads With Swiss Over Street View Images

Swiss privacy officials want Google to blur every face in Street View, even it's by hand. Google typically does facial blurring with automation and says that process works in 99 percent of cases. However there's that pesky 1 percent of cases where that doesn't fully obscure people in the photographs. Now the Swiss are telling Google that the company should manually review all Street View images taken in Switzerland or "take the service offline," according to the Wall Street Journal. The Swiss have very strict privacy rules (obviously). Currently Google is prevented by court order from up [...]

Google, Connecticut-led Coalition Agree To Negotiate WiFi Data Collection Issues

Google and the Connecticut-led coalition of 40 US states will avoid court and begin negotiations that are aimed at settling issues related to Google's collection of personal data over unsecured WiFi networks. In a press release issued today (PDF), newly-elected Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen says the coalition will not pursue a demand issued last month that Google produce the data it had collected. The previous AG, Richard Blumenthal, had hinted that he would consider legal action if Google resisted giving over the data. According to today's announcement, Google has made a fe [...]

South Korean Police File Criminal Charges Over Google’s WiFi Data Gathering

Here's a follow-up up on last week's report: South Korean police have now filed criminal charges against Google over the collection of personal information via unsecured wifi networks. The data was collected by Street View vehicles in South Korea between October 2009 and May 2010. According to the AP story, police examined the data that Google collected and determined that it broke two South Korean laws. South Korean police concluded after months of analysis of hard disks obtained from Google that the company's activities broke South Korean laws protecting privacy of telecommunications a [...]

South Korea May Arrest Google Execs Over WiFi Data Collection

South Korean police are planning to file criminal charges against Google executives over the collection of personal data via unsecured wifi networks. According to IDG News/PCWorld, the country's national police agency has determined that Google acted illegally when it gathered personal data as part of its Street View mapping service. A police official says they're interviewing Google officials in South Korea, but wouldn't confirm if arrests are expected. Police say they plan to file criminal charges against the Google executives that ordered the data collection, but that may never happe [...]

Google Sued Over Street View Showing Woman’s Underwear On Clothesline

The Telegraph reports Google was sued by a Japanese woman because its Google Street View service displayed an image of her home with her underwear hanging in clear sight. The suit is for over $7,000 US dollars or 600,000 Yen. The woman is claiming psychological distress that has worsened her existing obsessive-compulsive disorder. "I was overwhelmed with anxiety that I might be the target of a sex crime," the woman told a district court. "It caused me to lose my job and I had to change my residence." "I could understand if it was just a picture of the outside of the apartment, but sh [...]

Connecticut Attorney General Threatens Legal Action Over Google WiFi Data

Connecticut's outgoing Attorney General says legal action is a possibility after Google refused to turn over personal data that it's collected via unsecured wifi networks. Richard Blumenthal tells the Wall Street Journal that he's "disappointed" by Google's decision not to respond to recent demands to review data that Google collected from Connecticut businesses and residences. "We will review any information we receive and consider whether additional enforcement steps -- including possible legal action -- are warranted," Blumenthal told the WSJ on Friday. Google has maintained all alon [...]

Australian Police Drop Google WiFi Investigation

Saying it's unlikely to get a conviction, the Australian Federal Police has given up its six-month investigation of Google's collection of personal data over unsecure WiFi networks. In a statement issued Friday, the AFP says that Google's activities "may have" broken the law, but that pursuing the matter further doesn't make sense. Evidence exists to suggest that the potential breach of the TIA by Google was inadvertent. Coupled with the difficulty of gathering sufficient evidence required for an examination of potential breaches, the AFP has concluded that it would not be an efficient [...]

Google Ordered To Fork Over A Dollar For Street View Trespassing (Yes, $1)

A court case that began in 2008 when a Google Street View vehicle took photos on a private road in Pennsylvania is over. The judgment? Google owes the plaintiffs a dollar. Aaron and Christine Boring originally sued Google with a variety of claims, including invasion of privacy, trespassing, punitive damages, and more after a Street View vehicle drove onto a clearly marked private road and took photographs of their home. In 2009, a US District Court threw out the entire case, but earlier this year, an appeals court allowed the trespass claim to continue. In doing so, the appeals court pred [...]

EU Minister: Google Street View Controversy Shows Need For Uniform Privacy Standards In Europe

Will 2011 be the "year of privacy"? There are many reasons to think so. In the US, the Obama administration is planning to establish a committee or "czar" to oversee potential new internet privacy rules. Republicans and Democrats alike seem to be concerned about online tracking and privacy issues. The question would appear to be not "if" or "whether" but how burdensome and strict new privacy rules will be for publishers and online ad networks. In Europe privacy has long been treated with greater protection and stiffer rules than in the US. However those rules are inconsistent across cou [...]

Space To The Street With Google Earth 6 — Plus 3D Trees

Google Earth 6 is being introduced today. It includes a number of significant upgrades and improvements. Specifically, Street View has been more deeply integrated into Earth. Users now can fly "seamlessly" from space to the street wherever Google has Street View imagery. Interestingly, Google is also introducing 3D trees to make Google Earth's 3D environments more realistic. And finally, Google has added more historical imagery, which allows users to see earlier photography of the same location on a timeline (from 1945 to the present). Each of these changes makes sense and enriches the G [...]

Google Fans Throw Eggs At Houses Blurred In Google Street View

Some people who chose to blur their houses on Google Street View in Germany received an unexpected real life blurring: Google fans who threw eggs at their homes. Deutsche Welle reports that on Saturday, several homes in the Bergerhausen area of Essen that opted to be blurred were hit with eggs. "Google's Cool" notes were also taped to their mailboxes. Der Westen reports similarly, in German here. Neither gives the exact number of homes involved nor are pictures of the eggings posted. To the right, an example of one of the blurred homes in the area. Google Street View launched in Germa [...]

Google Maps Privacy: The Street View & Wifi Scorecard

It seems not a week goes by without news of a new investigation into Google's Street View service, or into Google's collection of personal data via unencrypted WiFi networks that occurred over three years as Street View vehicles drove the world's streets. It seems like one country opens an investigation just as another country ends theirs. Some countries have multiple investigations open. Or closed. You need a scorecard to keep track of it all. So, we decided to make one. Below is a list of investigations that we're aware of -- a list we'll update as new development [...]

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