Google pays $1.4 million over privacy concerns

Google has paid a fine of 1 million euros for violating Italian privacy rules with its Street View service.

Italy’s data protection watchdog said the Web giant’s cars “roamed the streets without being perfectly recognizable,” which prevented people from being about “to decide whether or not to avoid being photographed.

The government agency received a slew of complaints, it said, from people who did not want to be captured by Google’s cameras but were not able to make the choice.

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One million euros is the equivalent of about $1.4 million.

In a statement, a Google representative said that the case dates back to 2010, and the company “complied with everything [the regulator] required of us at the time.”

Google’s Street View relies on cars roaming the roads and taking pictures to be posted online. The popular service has been one of numerous Google products to come under fire in the U.S. and Europe over privacy concerns. 

The Italian watchdog claimed that Google’s cars were not easily identifiable. It required the company to publicize upcoming routes ahead of time online, on the radio and in at least two local newspapers. Google had “promptly adopted” those measures, it added.

In the U.S., Google has fought against charges that its cars had violated privacy protections by scanning unencrypted Wi-Fi networks as they roamed the streets. The Wi-Fi “sniffing” helps the company improve its geolocation services, but the practice also captures tiny snippets of users’ Web traffic.

In September, an appeals court ruled that that violated federal wiretapping prohibitions. Google has appealed the case to the Supreme Court.