AUSTIN -- Texas, 37 other states and the District of Columbia today resolved their lengthy investigation into Google Inc.'s collection of personal information - including e-mail and search histories -- from unsecured wireless routers at private residences and businesses.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott provided this statement about the agreement negotiated by the states:
"For two years, Google violated Texans' privacy rights and secretly collected personal information from their wireless routers. Today's agreement requires Google to destroy any personal data that was improperly collected and imposes important new privacy protections that govern the Street View program going forward."
The State's investigation subsequently revealed that despite assertions to the contrary, Google collected private information that was transmitted over unencrypted WiFi networks for two years. Although information transmitted on these wireless networks was collected from 2010 to 2012, Google represented that it had not intended to collect and store network users' private payload data.
Under today's agreement, Google must pay $7 million and comply with following requirements:
- Destroy the "payload data" it collected;
- Notify network users and obtain their consent before using its Street View vehicles to collect any additional "payload data";
- Implement an employee training program that highlights network users' privacy and maintain the training program for the next 10 years; and
- Develop a public service campaign to educate network users about how to better secure their personal information while they are using wireless networks.
Attorney General Abbott urged Texans to protect their privacy by securing their home computer systems and activating encryption features to make sure that transmitted information is scrambled.