To recap:Â In 2009, Google cameÂ under fireÂ for its Street View product, where the online services giantÂ photographed homes and other buildingsÂ in numerous countries as part of its online mapping service, as individuals said the photos invaded their privacy. Then, in 2010, GoogleÂ announcedÂ that, for more than three years â€” in more than 30 countries â€” it had been â€œmistakenly collectingâ€ personal data from open WiFi networks as its vehicles roamed the streets taking photos for its Street View mapping service. Later,Â the company admittedÂ the data collected â€” without individualsâ€™ knowledge or consent â€” included entire e-mails and passwords. AndÂ it was revealedÂ that â€œGoogle also recorded the street addresses and unique identifiers of computers and other devices using those wireless networks and then made the data available through Google.com.â€ In October 2010,Â the Federal Trade CommissionÂ announced thatÂ (pdf) it had closedÂ an investigation intoÂ possible privacy breaches by Googleâ€™s Street View after the companyÂ pledged to stopÂ gathering consumersâ€™ e-mail, passwords and other personal data.Â In April,Â the Federal Communications CommissionÂ decidedÂ (redacted pdf) that it would not take enforcement action against the company over this data collection and retention, but it wouldÂ fine Google $25,000 for impeding the agencyâ€™s investigation into the private data collected and retained via its Street View product.
The online services giant also faced questions from states over the data collection. Last month, theÂ Washington PostÂ reports thatÂ Google has reached a settlement (ConnecticutÂ pdf;Â archiveÂ pdf) with 38 states and the District of Columbia over the collection and retention of individualsâ€™ personal data through its Street View product, but the company will only have to pay $7 million total and implement a privacy program.