May 25, 2018
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Maine to share in Google settlement

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
Janet Mills
By Robert Long, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Google will pay a $7 million legal settlement to Maine, 37 other states and the District of Columbia, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills announced Tuesday.

The settlement derives from a suit challenging Google’s collection of data from unsecured wireless networks around the nation while taking photographs for its Street View mapping service between 2008 and March 2010.

The agreement bans unauthorized data collection, requires training of Google employees on privacy and includes a nationwide campaign to educate consumers about protecting their private information.

“Google’s Street View cars were equipped to collect identification information from unsecured business and personal wireless Internet networks for use in geolocation mapping services,” Mills said in a prepared statement. “At the same time, Google collected and stored pieces of data and other ‘payload data’ being transmitted over those wifi networks.”

Google did not admit wrongdoing, but the firm, in an agreement signed Tuesday, acknowledged that “information may have included requested Web pages, partial or complete email communications, and private information being transmitted to or from the network user while the Street View cars were driving by.”

“As an industry leader, Google has recognized that collecting personal and private data from an unsuspecting wifi network user is unacceptable,” Mills said. “At the same time, this case is a reminder that people should take steps to protect themselves from unwarranted intrusions of their personal and financial matters.”

Google has since disabled or removed the equipment and software used to collect the payload data from its Street View vehicles, and it has agreed not to collect any additional information without notice and consent.

Maine’s share of the multistate settlement is $106,005, which could be used to cover the costs of litigation or for future consumer protection or privacy enforcement and consumer education efforts, according to Mills.

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