Google’s collection of passwords and other bits of data from people’s Wi-Fi routers is an issue that, it seems, just won’t die. The drama may now be a few years in the past, but South Korea has only this week fined the company over it.
According to the Korea Herald, the country’s communication regulator has hit Google with a $196,000 fine, or 0.0003 percent of the ad company’s annual revenues (based on Google’s Q3 2013 results). This follows similarly ineffectual fines levied over the Wi-Fi snooping by regulators in Germany ($189,000) and France ($142,000).
In America, Google did have to pay a slightly more sizable $7 million to settle a multi-state lawsuit over the snafu last year, however.
The controversy relates to the company’s Street View vehicles, which had been mapping Wi-Fi networks as well as photographing streets, in order to improve the speed and accuracy of Google’s location services.
This was enough to alarm some privacy-minded people, particularly as Google wasn’t upfront about what it was doing, but it also turned out that the vehicles’ on-board systems were scooping up fragments of data that were passing over people’s Wi-Fi access points. The company blamed this on rogue code in its software.