Google's Street View Privacy Settlement Moves Forward

Google's $13 million settlement of a privacy lawsuit stemming from data collection by Street View cars moved forward Wednesday, when U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco granted the deal preliminary approval.

The agreement calls for the company to pay around $10 million to nonprofits that promise to use the money to promote online privacy.

The settlement agreement names 10 groups as potential recipients: The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, Center for Digital Democracy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Internet Policy Research Initiative, World Privacy Forum, Public Knowledge, Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, and Consumer Reports.

The deal also requires Google to destroy some data collected by its Street View cars, and to refrain from using Street View cars to collect or store personal data for at least five years. Class counsel who brought the lawsuit could receive around $3 million.

If granted final approval by Breyer, the settlement will resolve a lawsuit dating to 2010 over revelations that Google's Street View cars collected a host of data -- including URLs, passwords and emails -- sent over unencrypted WiFi networks.

News about Google's data gathering sparked investigations into the company in the U.S. and abroad.

In 2013, Google agreed to pay $7 million to settle with more than 30 state attorneys general investigating the so-called "Wi-Spy" debacle.

The company also was fined $25,000 in 2012 by the Federal Communications Commission for failing to cooperate with its probe.

Google's data collection also prompted a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company violated the federal wiretap law.
Google apologized for the interceptions and said it intended to destroy the data, but also maintained that it didn't violate any laws. The company argued that the federal wiretap law only prohibits interceptions from Wi-Fi networks that are protected by passwords.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Google's argument in 2013.

Breyer is expected to decide whether to grant the deal final approval after a hearing next year. The date for that proceeding has not yet been announced.

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