Caught again!

Another day, another Google privacy breach.

This time no less than 30 US states have taken aim at Google for surreptitiously collecting sensitive personal data sent over their WiFi networks.  According to a press release fromAttorney General Jepsen of Texas, they have not only fined Google, but they have also ordered Google to “engage in a comprehensive employee education program about the privacy or confidentiality of user data; to sponsor a nationwide public service campaign to help educate consumers about securing their wireless networks and protecting personal information; and to continue to secure, and eventually destroy, the data collected and stored by its Street View vehicles nationwide between 2008 and March 2010.”

“While the $7 million is significant, the importance of this agreement goes beyond financial terms. Consumers have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This agreement recognizes those rights and ensures that Google will not use similar tactics in the future to collect personal information without permission from unsuspecting consumers,” Jepsen said.

The fact that it requires repeated action by privacy regulators before a company will respect the privacy of its users is unacceptable. When one considers the unprecedented access this company has to our sensitive personal data, it also becomes dangerous. This case is simply the latest of numerous other privacy violations by Google, including the Buzz debacle, the well-documented “Spy-Fi” data grab in which Google was found to have breached privacy legislation in 9 countries before the US, and, of course, the new privacy policy under which Google shares user data across all platforms.

ICOMP’s Auke Haagsma said “ The statement by the State AGs is further evidence of Google’s complete and utter disrespect for people’s privacy. Internet users around the world deserve that their personal data are being treated with care, not simply used to prop up Google’s advertising business from which it derives some 96% of its income.”