was settled today, as the company reached an agreement with 37 states and the District of Columbia to stop unauthorized data collection and train its employees on privacy issues.
Google will also pay a $7 million fine to the states involved. The company will also launch a nationwide consumer education campaign, according to the settlement.
The settlement concerns Google's collection of data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide between 2008 and 2010 as part of its Street View mapping service. Google improperly collected and stored information from consumers including email and text messages, passwords and web histories.
Google has said the collection was done by a "rogue engineer."
"We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue," Google said in a statement. "The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it. We're pleased to have worked with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and the other state attorneys general to reach this agreement."
The settlement requires Google to destroy the personal information it collected during its Street View project, create a new employee training program about protecting consumers' personal information, and create a national ad campaign designed to educate consumers about how to protect their private information. The training program must continue for the next 10 years.
"Consumers have a right to protect their vital personal and financial information from improper and unwanted use by corporations like Google," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. "This settlement addresses privacy issues and protects the rights of people whose information was collected without their permission. My office will continue to hold corporations accountable for violating the rights of New Yorkers."
In addition to New York, the states agreeing to the settlement are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.Update, 9:56 a.m.: Added comment from Google.