French privacy watchdog CNIL has slapped Google with a €100,000 fine for violating the country's privacy laws by collecting sensitive user information from unprotected Wi-Fi networks for its Street View mapping service.
Street View, a part of Google Maps, allows users to view images at street level in European countries and the US. To gather data for the project, google drove a vehicle down all of the streets covered by the Street View feature.
The service had come under scrutiny from privacy regulators across the world when Google claimed it had unknowingly collected sensitive user data like emails, user names and passwords from unprotected Wi-Fi networks in US states and European countries including the UK.
The CNIL said that Google had promised to delete the collected data but had violated French privacy by collection information stored in Wi-Fi access points without the consent of users. The fine is the highest penalty doled out by the regulator since it received the powers in 2004.
Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel said in a statement, “Google is profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities.”