Google has admitted that it collected data from Wi-Fi networks, but the company says it did so inadvertently.
Back in 2010, Google copped to "mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open wi-fi networks" while building its Street View network in Germany. Local prosecutors weighed charges against Google, but in the absence of clear-cut evidence of criminal wrong-doing, ultimately decided against taking legal action. Still, Johannes Caspar, the commissioner for data protection in the state of Hamburg, was not content to let the Mountain View company get away that easy.
Earlier this week, Mr. Caspar announced that the state of Hamburg was fining Google 145,000 euros, or $189,000, for "unauthorized wireless recordings." The $189,000, obviously, is a lot of cash for the Average Joe. But it's not a lot of money for Google, which hit $50 billion in annual revenue in 2012.
In fact, in a strongly-worded statement, Caspar acknowledged that the fine would likely do little to hamper a juggernaut such as Google.