Federal regulators in the U.S. are over it, but Google’s Street View privacy gaffe continues to produce headaches in the Europe. The long journey appears to be nearing an end, but one with a price tag. The company has received an offer from the Belgian government to settle up with that country’s privacy regulators for 150,000 euros, or about $215,000.
Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has said it’s considering the offer. “We have received an offer of extra-judicial settlement from the Belgian federal prosecutor and we have to study it carefully,” Google spokesman Anthony House told Bloomberg.
The Dutch government is considering issuing a fine of 750,000 euros–five times larger than the Belgian offer. French regulators hit Google with its first fine over the Street View issue in March, of 100,000 euros.
In 2009, Google’s Street View cars collected private data from unencrypted WiFi networks, a move that the company said was an engineering mistake that it immediately reported to authorities once it because aware of it. The company has apologized repeatedly for collecting the data.
It almost goes without saying that even if Google does ultimately pay a bunch of fines over the Street View issue, the cumulative impact on Google’s bottom line will be negligible. Even if the Street View penalties climb into the millions, we’re talking about the internet company that just plunked down $12.5 billion to buy Motorola (NYSE: MMI). Still, it might be concerned about the precedent that will be set if it accepts penalty fines for a privacy violation in a number of countries.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission looked into Google’s Street View snafu but dropped the matter relatively quickly. Some state attorneys general still have the matter under investigation, however.
It isn’t yet clear if the collection of the data was legal or not under U.S. law. Google is facing a lawsuit over the issue from privacy lawyers who say that the Street View incident violates federal anti-wiretapping laws. A federal judge recently ruled the plaintiffs in that lawsuit can move forward; Google has appealed that decision.