The Tennessee attorney general's office announced Tuesday that Google will pay Tennessee and 36 other states $7 million and revamp its consumer privacy practices.
Attorney General Bob Cooper said in a prepared statement that Tennessee’s share is estimated at $133,528 as part of the agreement stemming from privacy complaints regarding Google’s collection of data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide while taking photographs for its street-view service between 2008 and March 2010.
The agreement, which was filed today, bans unauthorized data collection and requires Google to train its employees on privacy and launch a nationwide campaign to teach consumers how to protect their information.
“We are pleased Google recognizes consumers’ right to privacy and will no longer collect information during its street-view photography without their permission,” Cooper said in a prepared statement. “I strongly encourage Tennesseans to take more proactive steps to secure their personal wireless Internet connection to avoid any other similar privacy intrusions.”
At issue in this case is that the equipment used for Google's street-view maps, for which the company used cars equipped with antennae and open-source software, collected network identification information. That information was then used for other services, such as geo-location applications. Google leaders admitted that it simultaneously collected and stored information gathered from nearby homes and businesses without permission. Though Google officials said that they were unaware unsecured wireless data was being collected while the street-view cars were driving by, they did acknowledge that information collected may have included Internet addresses of requested Web page searches, partial or complete email communications, and any confidential or private information being transmitted to or from the network.
Since then, Google has disabled or removed the equipment and software used to collect the data and agreed not to collect any additional information without notice and consent.
Also as part of the agreement, Google has agreed to segregate and secure the information it gathered and will destroy the information as soon as legally practicable. Google officials agreed that the data was not used and will not be used in any product or service. The company also agreed that the information collected in the United States was not disclosed to a third party.
View the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance at http://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/cases/google/google.html.