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Google violated privacy, says Hamburg

23 April 2013, 12:31

Hamburg – Internet search giant Google was fined about R1.45m by German authorities on Monday for collecting large amounts of personal data from wireless networks through cameras installed on vehicles for its street view service.

The data protection office in the northern German city of Hamburg imposed the fine for the violation of privacy during the years 2008 to 2010, when Google was preparing its cityscape service.

“In my estimation, this is one of the most serious cases of violation of data protection regulations that have come to light so far,” said John Caspar, who heads up the protection office.

“Among the information collected in the drive-bys were significant amounts of personal data of varying quality,” said John Caspar.

“For example emails, passwords, photos and logs of chats were collected,” he said.

The company said it had tightened up its systems to address the problems that arise with its Street View operations.

Google told the Hamburg regulator that it had never been its intention to store personal data.

But Caspar said the fact that it happened nevertheless, and over such a long period of time, led to only one conclusion: “that the company’s internal control mechanisms failed seriously”.

He went on to say that, under German law, he was unable to impose a much larger fine, saying that the maximum penalty for violations of the negligent data rule was limited to €150 000.

- Sapa-DPA

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