During the past seven days, five countries have complained about Google’s Street View cars. The growing outcry over privacy prompted Google to post another apology on their blog, which laid out new “privacy controls” to avoid future privacy breaches.
Enter Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who recently said that Google’s policy on a lot of things is to “get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.” He was interviewed by CNN about privacy concerns, and responded with another oddball Schmidt comment.
“Street View, we drive exactly once,” he said. “So, you can just move, right?”
Really? Apparently not. Because what Schmidt really meant to say, according to Google, was that Street View provides only a delayed picture, not real-time imagery or any up to the minute information about where people are.
This follows Schmidt’s other recent “solution” for people who post embarrassing content on social media sites: change your name. Later, Schmidt said this was a “joke” on “The Colbert Report.”
Italy Orders Google to Mark Cars, Announce Itinerary
Over the weekend, Italy informed Google that its Street View cars must be clearly marked and, three days in advance, Google must announce exactly where its cars will be operating on its website, in local newspapers, and on the radio, Reuters reported.
“There has been strong alarm and also hostility in a lot of European countries against Google taking photos. We have received protests even from local administrations,” said Privacy Authority President Francesco Pizzetti.
‘Gross Invasion of Privacy’ in England
Google may face fines of up to £500,000 for breaking British privacy laws when the company’s cars collected Wi-Fi data. Britain’s Information Commissioner Christopher Graham announced plans to launch a new investigation into the incident.
Britain’s previous investigation, which ended in July, “did not include meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person. … We will be making enquires to see whether this information relates to the data inadvertently captured in the UK, before deciding on the necessary course of action, including a consideration of the need to use our enforcement powers.”
Germany, Spain, and Canada
In Germany, 244,237 out of 8,458,084 households (or 2.89 percent) want images of their homes to be blurred when Street View map imagery launches in the country’s 20 biggest cities.
Canada’s privacy commissioner declared that Google violated the country’s privacy laws by collecting WiFi data containing complete e-mails, e-mail addresses, user names and passwords, names and residential telephone numbers and addresses, and health details. Google was ordered delete all the info by Feb. 1.
Spain’s Data Protection Agency is wants to fine Google for up to five infractions — at a cost of between €60,000 and €600,000 ($84,000 and $840,000) per offense — due to the Wi-Fi data Google collected with its Street View cars.
Google has since stopped collecting Wi-Fi data.