Google has been fined €145,000 (around $189,000) for what a regulator called "one of the biggest data protection rules violations known." The fine comes after it was proved that Google's Street View cars illegally collected data from open Wi-Fi networks between 2008 and 2010. German prosecutors dropped criminal proceedings against the search giant last fall after they failed to find "criminal violations," but data protection regulators picked up the case in the hope of levying a fine. Google claims its Street View team was unaware of the collection and never looked at the illegal data haul, and Hamburg-based regulator Johannes Caspar tells Bloomberg that Google's "internal control mechanisms must have severely failed."
The €145,000 fine isn't likely to upset Google too much. For what was apparently one of German's most egregious data protection violations ever, the fine represents less than 0.005 percent of Google's profit last quarter. Caspar is calling for the limit on data rule violation fines to be raised from the current maximum of €150,000 in order to "deter unlawful behavior" in the future. We've reached out to Google to ask if it will contest today's fine — the company has been investigated for Street View privacy violations in other countries, and maintains it never knowingly collected or stored data illegally.