Search engine/information megalith Google is no stranger to legal battles over privacy concerns. Monday, the site was fined by France’s privacy watchdog for illegal collection of personal data to the tune of euro100,000 ($141,300)—the largest fine ever handed down by the agency (and the only fine Google has ever received for such maleficence).
The data, which included personal e-mails, online banking information, passwords and Web browsing histories was siphoned by Google’s Street View cars and bicycles from 2007 to 2010 from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
“As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks,” said Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel for Google. “As soon as we realized what had happened, we stopped collecting all WiFi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities. Deleting the data has always been our priority, and we’re happy the CNIL has given permission for us to do so.”
It is unclear whether Google is going to appeal the fine (which was issued by the French government’s technology and privacy group CNIL). What is clear, however, is that paying such a penalty would likely not bankrupt the multi, multi-billion dollar company.