Google to pay $7 million for privacy violation

Description: Google on Tuesday acknowledged to state officials that it had violated people’s privacy during its Street View mapping project when it casually scooped up passwords, e-mail and other personal information from unsuspecting computer users.

Date: March 13, 2013


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.”

 Questions for discussion:

1. Do you feel Google is serious about protecting your privacy?  Why or Why Not

2.  what can you do to secure your privacy as an individual or an organization?


23 thoughts on “Google to pay $7 million for privacy violation

  1. Yuliya

    I don’t think Google is very serious about privacy concerns. The basis of Google is, in fact, information itself! The reason why Google is so successful is because the company is able to collect so much information and use it in a manner which is advantageous for them. In terms of the privacy violations in the $7 million dollar settlement, I don’t actually think the company did anything wrong. I would think the only reason people were outraged by this is because it violated a couple of ethical factors. Some individuals did not take the necessary measures to protect their privacy and Google just happened to collect this information. Anyone would have been able to do this as their networks were not secure and the only reason Google got attention for this, is because they are a large company. If individuals do not want any entity to use their information without consent, they should take the necessary measures to protect their privacy.

  2. Sean

    Seeing how Google’s mission is to provide the world’s information to the world, I do not think that privacy policies are a concern for them. Google has been in violation with privacy issues in the past and nothing has come of it. With the continuous growth of the internet, and the technological advances happening at a rapid rate, Google will need to update their privacy settings and secure this private information or else people are going to get angry and start using other browsing sites such as bing or yahoo which maintain higher levels of security and privacy.
    Google does not care to protect your privacy more than they care about profits. They want every legal piece of info they can get their hands on so they can make a buck from it. However, they do want to secure customer trust, so they will go great lengths to secure and protect all their gathered data. Since google is publicly owned, if a privacy mishap were to occur, their shareholders would not be happy, and the reputation of the company would drastically change.

  3. Oyinkan Bakinson

    I don’t think Google is very serious about protecting privacy. Just with most companies, I believe their main goal is to turn a profit despite questionable tactics. It would probably cost Google more to respect and protect privacy of consumers that it would to get a fine. A company like that would probably not like to spend money on such things. Google thrives on information and by protecting the very information they covet would be an apparent loss to them and I’m sure they would not like that.
    In the first place why on earth would individuals not put a password on their Wi-Fi? You might as well be giving the whole street free Wi-Fi. As individual, we need to become far less ignorant of happenings like this. Secure data should not be stored on shared devices or networks. Strong passwords should be used for everything. Individuals should refrain from posting their whole live online especially on social media and realize that they are not the only ones on there. A culture of privacy protection needs to be strongly ingrained into our world today. I’m sure if more people were aware and fought for privacy rights, it would lead to a revolution. But first, we must be aware.

  4. Haley

    Like stated in the video for google 7 million dollars is just a slap on the wrist. Do they know that they collected all that information, of course, were they using any of that information to hurt or steal people’s information and use it again their will, I don’t believe so. People need to realize that the internet is a very unprivate place, and that if it is not locked anyone can come buy and steal your connect or you information. My parents live on a farm out in the middle of no where and my Mom had said I don’t even know why we have a password it’s not like anyone is going to come steal it, but you just can never know! It is better safe than sorry when it comes to such sensitive stuff, like online banking information.
    I did think the street view was such a cool thing when I first saw it, but then I thought that it was kind of creepy. One of my friends was able to locate his car twice on google maps street view, once at his own home and once at his work place,it just seems a little weird. Hopefully google, as well as other huge big name companies will look at this as a very serious matter and begin to respect peoples privacy a bit more!

  5. Matt Gough

    After watching the video, it seems apparent that Google does not seem serious about protecting out privacy. And when their fine is an amount that is hardly making a dent into their daily earnings it is safe to assume that they are not going to do much to change what they have done in the past. A huge part of Googles income come from advertising to their customers so i can understand why they would attempt to take those personal things from individual households. but not that they are such a large company they need to take our personal information very serious and do all they can to ensure that their customers are feeling protected. currently, i am not concerned that my personal information is not safe on google at the moment, maybe because this is the first time i have heard of privacy issues with Google.
    Everyone who uses the internet is responsible for their own identity and and privacy online. We must ensure that all of our software is up to date and ready for any sort of attack. Its important that we use common sense when dealing with websites that we use our personal money on for purchasing or selling. we must stop posting very detailed and personal information on social media sites where anyone could know whats going on in your life at any given moment.

  6. Greg Goodwin

    No, I don’t think that Google is overly concerned about protecting our privacy. They are a company that thrives on information. The more they have, the better off they are, and the better their services will be. They may be concerned about protecting themselves and operating within the guidelines of the law but it when it comes to collecting and using perhaps the most private information about you while operating within the law, anything goes really.

    Sure you can! You can protect your information by utilizing adequate security methods such as WPA2 passwords and store critical information on a device that may not even be linked to a network at all. Of course, the degree of security will change depending on the situation, but we are just as responsible for protecting ourselves as those who would acquire our information would be for taking it.

  7. James Perry

    I dont think that google in the past has taken this privace issue seriously due to the previous encounters with privacy protection. It definately can go both ways though, you yourself needs to take the adewuate precautions and protect your home networks from the outside public that you dont want to have access to your netwprks and private information. Google on the other hand needs to take the same precautions and protect its users from the spreading of personal private information. The internet and technology is changing daily and google needs to keep up with the changes to protect its customers.

    I think that google should enahce their security mek of protectiasures to ensure customer privacy. Setting up passwords for access would eliminate some of the privacy violations. I was not aware of google and its lack of privacy protection untill now. But after hearing about this problem i will be more aware of situation and do more on my part to protect my personal and private information, and Google should do the same to ensure my personal information.

  8. Jordan Gibson

    1. Do you feel Google is serious about protecting your privacy? Why or Why Not
    -Considering the facts that were stated by what the numbers show for Google’s daily earnings I do not feel that they are real serious about protecting our privacy. When you see a number like 137 million for a daily earning and then also are shown the dollar figure that it would cost Google to set up standard security procedures, it is absolutely absurd. Of course they are going to pay for the service, I mean it would be foolish of them not to, especially when they are raking it in every single day.

    2. what can you do to secure your privacy as an individual or an organization?
    -We can pretty much assume that Google could really give 2 cents about our own privacy, so what we need to do as individuals is become more aware of what problems can occur from leaking out too much personal information. We must learn to not post everything online on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and learn to hold back a little. Everything that is uploaded to these sites, including email addresses, home addresses, and very personal and private information is being used against us each and every day and Google is the least of our problems. Keep your personal information to yourself and don’t put it on sites willingly. It is not going to solve all of these issues, but it is a start.

  9. mark schmitz

    Google’s mission is to provide the world’s information to whoever wants to access it. In their hunt to gather copious amounts of data they will take advantage of any open portal to do so. If you leave your wifi unsecure, expect others to use it. Don’t be surprised if you came home from work to find all your belongings gone because you didn’t shut the door when you left for work.
    Google does not care to protect your privacy more than they care about profits. They want every LEGAL piece of info they can get their hands on so they can make a buck from it. However, they do want to secure customer trust, so they WILL go great lengths to secure and protect all their gathered data. It would be a shareholder nightmare if anything happened that would compromise the reputation of google, ie privacy protection mishaps….

  10. shaunagregus

    I don’t think that Google really wants to protect our privacy. They can benefit immensely by accessing everyone’s private data. They are a huge, successful company that is consumer driven and will do anything and everything to become the biggest and best- even if that means breaking the rules every now and again. Technology is, as always, every growing and google is taking advantage of the fact that many people are naive when it comes to protecting their data online. In all honesty, they are simply making strategic business moves to keep up with the consumers, but the fact that they are doing it unknowingly is the shady part. There are so many people who don’t understand just how easy it can be for someone to access many aspects of your life that are put online if simple things like passwords on your home or business internet are not in place. By not taking every precaution to protect our internet, we are placing our information in the hands of anyone who’s willing to take the small amount of time required to access it. Google maps and streetview are apps that are aimed to make our lives easier, but they are proving to be more of a headache. Although a clever idea, the amount of damage people are willing to do once they have personal information from people is scary. Google is trying to cater to our innocent needs without taking into account the far-from innocent nature that some people have when it comes to access of info.

  11. prashant malik

    I don’t think that Google is concerned about protecting our privacy . A fine of 7 million, when the company is earning 137 million dollars a day, isn’t enough. This hasn’t been the first time when Google has been involved in such case. This actually came as quite a shock to me. Still they didn’t take any permanent measures to do anything about it. But I wouldn’t blame the Google because it is the responsibility of people to protect their information by putting a password on their WIFI , but they are so careless, that’s why many companies take advantage of them. Google is an information based company, so they will be gathering information in the way they might not be aware of. But I think that as it is a reputable company, it wouldn’t misuse the information. We can protect our information , by locking the Wi-Fi with a password no matter where you live. We shouldn’t use the same password on different websites.•Installing browser add-ons or plug-ins can help, too.•When using a Wi-Fi hotspot, only log in or send personal information to websites that you know are fully encrypted.•Some Wi-Fi networks use encryption: WEP and WPA are the most common. WPA encryption protects your information against common hacking programs.

  12. Ida Draper

    With a case like this being presented, I do not feel that Google is concerned with protecting your data when the individual does not worry about locking anything down. I could see Google caring about protecting your privacy when you are using any of their programs that require signing up and the storing of data but when it comes to data mining and collecting data, it seems that Google will do anything to gather anything and everything. Google is a company based information, it is almost expected that they have, are doing, and will do in the future, gather information about the individual in methods that they might not be completely aware of. When governments needed to get involved to fine Google for collecting data without consent is going to start influencing some major changes to how any company can collect information. Look at the retail industry and the number of store that have “rewards cards”. Those cards are not just to make the consumer believe shopping there is less of a transaction and more of a personal experience, but those cards are resources that the businesses can use to track shopping and spending trends. With that information they can customize coupons or promotions to cater to convincing you to return and spend more.

  13. Alex King

    Google is a vast company dealing in the billions. A 7 million dollar fine? Please they couldn’t care less. The dull light shone on this issue really pales when compered to how impressive it is that so little privacy was violated. We live in the digital age when everything can be recorded and no one is truly private anymore. I think google does a decent job of protecting privacy while still gathering database information to make money in a reasonable way. As for protecting my privacy, its a slippery slope for sure. There really are few ways to truly protect yourself from prying eyes and ears. Perhaps we need to think of this as an evolution of the overheard conversation and need to take further precautions to avoid sensitive information getting out there.

  14. Nicole Freeman

    OK! I find this report very interesting. It starts off by saying that Google INADVERTENTLY took people’s private data from unprotected WiFi connections when “street view” cars were collecting data for google earth. When WiFi came to be commonplace, my husband and I were working mostly in the states and broadband was not an option for us so when we came home to Canada for short periods of time, we would go to the library or use one of our neighbour’s unprotected Wifi connections. I never got any personal information from my neighbour, I simply connected to their WiFi and conducted my regular business on-line. Because our neighbours were so generous, when we finally came home permanently; we didn’t password protect our WiFi (you never know when a fellow starving musician might need a connection!). What I find interesting is that my husband and I NEVER collected sensitive information from our neighbours when we borrowed their connection. Google must have had “feelers” out for personal information. In other words, they must have had software “looking” for information. Because I can tell you…personal information doesn’t come flying off the page when you log on to an unsecured WiFi connection. You have to be actually looking for it. So no, I do not believe Google is in the business of protecting our privacy.

  15. Kathie

    I do not feel that Google is serious about protecting our privacy. A settlement of 7 million dollars is nothing when the company is taking in 137 million dollars daily anyway. I might be a little upset if I found out my personal information was taken and used in a bad way but first off, even if Google used that information it wouldn’t necessarily be for malicious reasons. I know a lot of people might feel differently than I do about their personal information being used without their knowledge but I’m sure a lot of my personal information is floating out there and is being used for who knows what but frankly it doesn’t bother me. Secondly, if you don’t want your personal information to be available to anyone other than yourself, you should take the necessary steps to protect that information. If you don’t have a password for your wifi, you are partially at fault. No matter where you live or how safe you feel with the privacy of your information, if you leave that information out in the open and unprotected you are at risk. People shouldn’t be complain about their privacy being invaded if they ignore the things they can do to prevent that.

  16. Justeen Kolody

    What this shows me is that as a company Google, was “unintentionally” collecting personal information. But why did it get to the point where they had to be fined. Should this issue have been identified earlier? I think so, although it is ones due diligence to take the precautionary measures to protect their privacy issues Google should have automatically got rid of all the information gathered. For this to have taken from the beginning of 2008 to now 2013, I don’t think Google was too concerned about protecting ones privacy. They may just have waited until someone caught on that there personal passwords and information was at risk. Then Google had decided to take action, or just pay a fine. But what I wonder is where is the fine money going to?
    Some of the measures that an individual or organization can do to prevent these privacy issues is put into place Wi-Fi protected access (WPA) or Extensible authentication Protocol (EAP).

  17. Jessi Chrapko

    Google seems to be more interested in making a huge amount of profit rather that privacy concerns. Even though the private information was collected in cases were there weren’t passwords or other security measures, Google still collected and kept that information. As the video mentioned, this is not the first time Google has violated privacy. They use any information they can get to target people with specific advertisements, websites, etc, to help themselves gain profits.

    As for what you can do to protect your information as an individual and/or an organization, the first step would be to have security measures such as passwords and security questions. It would also be beneficial to learn other ways to secure your information since information technology is always changing and past measures can become outdated quickly. Organizations should have some type of IT expert in charge of security measures since they have even larger amount of information to protect, such as that of employees and consumers.

  18. Marc

    Google Streetview cars picked up wi-fi signals out of the air that the cars drove through, that were unencrypted, and freely available to every wi-fi device that passed through that air space – including your iPods, smartphones, tablets, etc. We walk and drive through these wireless signals every day, but the difference with Google is that they recorded these signals so they could determine the GPS location of each wi-fi network they drove through (using the GPS receiver in their Streetview cars), so that people with iPods, wi-fi tablets, and wi-fi enabled computers could locate themselves based on which wi-fi networks they were in range of – just the same as cellphones can figure out where they are based on which cellular towers they’re in range of, but with greater accuracy because of the short range of wi-fi systems.

    Personal information was only recorded in cases where people were using unencrypted wi-fi networks to transmit personal information to unsecured websites. If we assume that people are responsible for educating themselves about their information privacy, then Google isn’t at fault. The problem is that we can’t make that assumption, so Google isn’t entirely faultless.

    Google is trying to make location-based services, such as Google Maps, available to devices that do not have GPS or cellular systems, such as laptops. The same wi-fi hotspot locating software runs on Android devices for Google’s collection, and on iPhones / iPads for Apple’s collection.

  19. Jordan Slemp

    Google doesn’t seem to be doing much to protect our privacy. I’m sure that them taking email addresses and other information from people who’s Wi-Fi is not password protected was an accident. None the less, they have programs in their search engines that can identify which websites you are interested in based on search history. They can identify your location and send you advertisements based on that. Google also sends ads based on your internet history. All these aspects lead me to believe they are not interested in protecting your privacy.
    Passwords are extremely important for protecting your own privacy. Privacy is something you need to protect on your own. Its personal so no one else is there to help protect you.

  20. Edward Agyapong

    This is a two way street or affair that will take ages to debate about. But in my opinion I will say
    No. I dont think and feel so. Why? because their street view technology is only invading on peoples privacy. Yes it is very true that they might have had the best of intentions during the design phase of this technology but clearly it’s only a causing privacy issues. The fact that google can capture peoples number plates even when those plates were not part of the query request is a total sign of intrusion. I mean in what way will google explain how it protecting our privacy? By enabling people to find your street view, know the colour and design of your homes or what. The only way we can stop this or secure our privacy is to stop inputing our personal information out there in public website. And government should draft out some rules to stop or prohibit some technological companies from performing some extrem activities when it comes to the privacy of the people. And not slap them with a minute fine of 7 million dollars when the company makes over 137 million dollars a day

  21. Tayler Orban

    I feel that Google is not serious about protecting privacy our privacy. The article mentioned that this is not the first time that Google has been in trouble for privacy issues and they have not done anything to find a permanent solution. The Internet advances at a rapid rate and in order to keep up they will have to update privacy settings and secure private information or else people will get fed up and start finding other sites to use that are more secure and private. I understand that it is a two way street and users have to be careful about securing their own information too. If both the users and Google secure their information then this combination will help to potentially eliminate privacy problems related to Google in the future. I hope Google learns from its mistakes and starts trying to fix this problem because when people find out that there information is being collected without their consent or knowledge it creates many unhappy users and uneasy feelings. Personally, I had no idea that Google violated privacy and after reading this article I found out that it wasn’t the first time and that is very upsetting. There are so many things that can go wrong if information is in the wrong hands and I do not want to be one of those people who have to deal with the repercussions of that.


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