The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection announced Tuesday that Hawaii joined 37 states and the District of Columbia in a $7 million settlement with Internet giant Google over its collection of data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide while taking photographs for its Street View service between 2008 and March 2010.
Google's Street View cars were equipped with antennae and open-source software that the company acknowledged collected network identification information for use in future geolocation services. At the same time, Google collected and stored data frames and other "payload data" being transmitted over those unsecured business and personal wireless networks.
While Google represented it was unaware the payload data was being collected, the agreement of voluntary compliance it signed with the states acknowledged that the information may have included URLS of requested Web pages, partial or complete email communications, and any confidential or private information being transmitted to or from the network user while the Street View cars were driving by.
"This hard-fought settlement was the result of nearly two years of negotiations," said Bruce Kim, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection. "It is a fair resolution of the states' complaints and it recognizes the privacy rights of individuals whose information was collected without their consent."
Hawaii’s share of the settlement is $106,179.
Google has since disabled or removed the equipment and software used to collect the payload data from its Street View vehicles and agreed not to collect any additional information without notice and consent.
The information collected was segregated and secured, and under terms of the agreement, will be destroyed as soon as legally practicable. Further, Google agreed that the payload data was not used, and will not be used, in any product or service, and that the information collected in the United States was not disclosed to a third party.
Other key elements of the agreement require Google to run an employee training program about privacy and confidentiality of user data and continue the program for at least 10 years. It must also conduct a public service advertising campaign to help educate consumers about steps they may take to better secure their personal information while using wireless networks.
The executive committee that negotiated the settlement included the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri and Texas. Connecticut was the lead state.
Other states participating in the settlement are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
Lisa Tong, a senior attorney in the Office of Consumer Protection, represented the State in the investigation.
View the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance on the OCP website: http://hawaii.gov/dcca/ocp/news-releases