When Google admitted that its Street View cars had recorded sensitive data sent over WiFi networks, there were many different reactions. UK authorities more or less brushed off the incident, for example, while Korean police raided Google’s offices. And now French regulators have landed somewhere in between, fining the company €100,000 (or $142,000).
Whether or not that’s a significant amount may be a matter of some debate. Consider that Google has a market cap of about $186 billion at the moment, and regularly indulges in odd habits like buying large statues of desserts. A sum of $142,000 won’t be missed by anyone other than the internal accountants who are tasked with keeping track of such things.
On the other hand, the head of the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertes, Yann Padova, told the AFP, “It is a record fine since we obtained the power in 2004 to impose financial sanctions in 2004,” so French authorities weren’t trying to let Google off with just a word of caution.
This move could set a precedent in other countries, as well, since regulators there might not want to appear soft and permissive when it comes to violations of their citizens’ privacy.
Anyway, Google’s now received permission to delete the data it collected in France, so the matter should be resolved in that particular nation.
Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, also added, “As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks.”