Google acknowledged Tuesday that some of its Street View mapping cars had violated people's privacy by tapping into unprotected wireless networks and collecting emails, passwords and browsing data. The company settled the case with 38 states for $7 million -- pocket change for Google.
Other terms of the settlement include annual Privacy Week events to school employees and company lawyers on privacy best practices. Perhaps more surprisingly, Google is also on the hook for teaching the public how to use a password to protect their wireless networks.
Several provisions involve outreach. Google must create a video for YouTube explaining how people can easily encrypt their data on their wireless networks and run a daily online ad promoting it for two years. It must run educational ads in the biggest newspapers in the 38 participating states, which besides Connecticut also include New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Ohio and Texas.
Although Google didn't technically do anything illegal, and the privacy breach was the work of a "rogue engineer," it seems the company is now responsible for teaching naive Internet users how to use basic password protection to prevent neighbors -- or passing Street View cars -- from accessing their networks and personal data.