The fleet of Google cars drove through Italy “without being perfectly recognizable, and not allowing people present along the ‘Google cars’ route to decide whether to back out of being photographed,” the country’s privacy watchdog (Garante per la protezione dei dati personali) said in a statement released on Thursday.
Google Street View is a global project, in which cars mounted with rotating cameras take photographs as they travel. The images are then knitted together and published alongside Google Maps, giving internet users a 360-degree view of a given area.
According to the Italian privacy authority, Google had agreed to make their cars “easily identifiable”, with signs and stickers, giving passersby the chance to avoid the cameras.
But failing to do this resulted in the €1 million sanction, already paid by Google, and was determined by the fact that the photographs collected “illicitly” were destined for a “a huge data bank”.
The fine is comparatively small when compared to the internet giant’s revenue, which reached $15.72 billion (€11.46 billion) in 2013.
As part of the broader measures to protect Italians’ privacy in 2010, Google also agreed to publish the cars’ route online three days in advance and place advertisements with local newspapers and radio stations.