GOOGLE has been fined €100,000 by the French data protection watchdog Cnil for stealing confidential data from homes using wifi from its Street View camera cars. 

The Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés found Google guilty of serious intrusion into people’s private lives.

Google’s Street View cars had been siphoning off and storing personal data from the wifi networks of the homes they passed.

Cnil said its analysis of this data showed Google had been collecting data including SIID and MAC addresses for wifi routers, personal data both identifiable and unidentifiable (such as connection information, bank passwords, email passwords, email addresses) and copies of emails with sensitive information on the health or sexual orientation of residents – including whether they visited sex sites.

While Google has agreed to stop collecting data through its Google cars and to get rid of any personal data, it will not stop using information on wifi access. Google will continue to collect personal data on smartphones through its geolocation service Latitude. Cnil says this is still a misuse of personal information and Google should at the very least warn people who use the Latitude software that it is collecting their personal data. One suspects they are probably right.

The Techies’ latest theory is that hackers are responsible for the unauthorised Google ads on The Slog site. My problem is that I don’t see what the commercial advantage might be in doing that. I remain suspicious that I am being bowled a Googly re this one….but until such time as Google sees fit to reply to me, I have no way of knowing.