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Inside Privacy Updates on Developments in Global Privacy & Data Security from Covington & Burling LLP

Google Fined by German Data Protection Authority Over WiFi Data Collection

Posted in European Union, International

The data protection authority in Hamburg, Germany, issued an administrative fine in the amount of € 145,000 against Google for its illegal WiFi data collection activities. This fine fell just short of the maximum amount for such fines under German data protection law, which is € 150,000 (in cases of negligence).  Between 2008 and 2010, Google Street View vehicles collected WiFi data while at the same time recording images for Google’s Street View program.  Google recorded the content of communications, including e-mails, passwords, photographs and chat-logs.

When these facts were first discovered in 2010, a German prosecutor initiated proceedings against Google.  Those proceedings were terminated in November 2012, but the Hamburg data protection authority subsequently investigated the same facts in the framework of administrative offence proceedings.  That data protection authority ultimately held that Google acted negligently in its unauthorized collection and storage of personal data and imposed the above-referenced administrative fine.  Google also was ordered to delete all illegally collected data and Google confirmed such deletion.