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Google admit privacy breach

Google acknowledged to state officials yesterday that they had violated people’s privacy during their Street View mapping project when it collected passwords, email and other personal information.

They agreed to settle a case which was brought by 38 states. Google also have to pay a fine of $7 million, which is small change for the organisation.

The NYTIMES said “In agreeing to settle a case brought by 38 states involving the project, the search company for the first time is required to aggressively police its own employees on privacy issues and to explicitly tell the public how to fend off privacy violations like this one.

While the settlement also included a tiny — for Google — fine of $7 million, privacy advocates and Google critics characterized the overall agreement as a breakthrough for a company they say has become a serial violator of privacy.

Complaints have led to multiple enforcement actions in recent years and a spate of worldwide investigations into the way the mapping project also collected the personal data of private computer users.”

The prospects for Google Glass were also mentioned on the NYTimes. They added “The agreement paves the way for a major privacy battle over Google Glass, the heavily promoted wearable computer in the form of glasses, Mr. Cleland said. “If you use Google Glass to record a couple whispering to each other in Starbucks, have you violated their privacy?” he asked. “Well, 38 states just said they have a problem with the unauthorized collection of people’s data.”

Niki Fenwick, a spokesperson at Google said yesterday “we work hard to get privacy right at Google, but in this case we didn’t, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue.”

Kitguru says: Will Google learn from this lesson?

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