Hawai’i Joins $7 Million Google Street View Settlement
By Wendy Osher
Hawai’i has joined 37 states and the District of Columbia in a $7 million settlement with internet giant Google over its collection of data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide. Hawaii’s share of the settlement is $106,179.
The settlement addresses the company’s photographs for its Street View service between 2008 and March 2010.
The announcement was made today by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Office of Consumer Protection.
“This hard-fought settlement was the result of nearly two years of negotiations,” said Bruce Kim, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection in a media statement today. “It is a fair resolution of the states’ complaints and it recognizes the privacy rights of individuals whose information was collected without their consent.”
State officials say Google’s Street View cars were equipped with antennae and open-source software. According to DCCA officials, the company acknowledged collecting network identification information for use in future geo-location services.
DCCA officials issued a media release saying Google collected and stored data frames and other “payload data” being transmitted over those unsecured business and personal wireless networks.
While Google reportedly represented it was unaware the payload data was being collected, the agreement of voluntary compliance it signed with the states acknowledged that the information may have included URLS of requested web pages, partial or complete email communications, and any confidential or private information being transmitted to or from the network user while the Street View cars were driving by, said state officials.
Google has since disabled or removed the equipment and software used to collect the payload data from its Street View vehicles and agreed not to collect any additional information without notice and consent.
State officials say the agreement bans unauthorized data collection, requires training of Google employees on privacy, and calls for a nationwide campaign to educate consumers on protecting information.
Connecticut was the lead state in the settlement action. Other participating states included in the settlement are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.