Google has been fined $7 million for collecting people’s personal data without authorization as part of its Street View service.
In a settlement with 38 US states, Google agreed to destroy emails, passwords, and web histories.
The data was harvested from home wireless networks as Street View cars photographed neighborhoods between 2008 and 2010.
Google said it was pleased to have resolved the issue.
“We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn’t, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue,” Google said in a statement.
“The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn’t use it or even look at it. We’re pleased to have worked with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and the other state attorneys general to reach this agreement.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the legal settlement.
“Consumers have a right to protect their vital personal and financial information from improper and unwanted use by corporations like Google,” he said.
“This settlement addresses privacy issues and protects the rights of people whose information was collected without their permission.”
As well as agreeing to delete all the harvested data, Google has also been required to launch an employee training program about privacy and data use which it must continue for at least ten years.
It must also launch a public service advertising campaign to educate consumers about how to secure their information on wireless networks.
Google claims it collected Wi-Fi data because of rogue code mistakenly included in the software by a lone engineer.
The controversy led data authorities around the world to demand Google made changes.