Google struck a deal with US authorities Tuesday to pay a $7 million fine for collecting people's personal data without authorization as it combed neighborhoods for its Street View service.
In a legal settlement with 38 states, the Internet giant agreed to destroy emails, passwords, and web histories it harvested from home wireless networks as Street View cars photographed neighborhoods between 2008 and 2010.
"This settlement addresses privacy issues and protects the rights of people whose information was collected without their permission," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.
"Consumers have a right to protect their vital personal and financial information from improper and unwanted use by corporations like Google."
The deal obliges Google to destroy the personal information collected as Street View cars roamed the country, photographing neighborhoods for the 360 degree street-level images it now provides with its Google maps service.
Google has since stopped collecting the data and has agreed not to do so without notice and consent, the statement said.
"We work hard to get privacy right at Google," the California-based Internet giant said in an email response to an AFP inquiry.
"But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue," the statement continued. "The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it."