After a notable battle, Google has bowed to the rules laid down by European privacy regulators with an announcement that it would be providing residential Wi-Fi router owners worldwide with the option to take their devices off a Google registry that is used for locating mobile phone users.
This new option follows a warning issued by the European regulators almost four months ago, which stated that it violated European law to use Wi-Fi router data to collect information regarding the locations, identities, and names of mobile phones within their range.
According to Hamburg privacy lawyer named Ulrich Börger, from the U.S. firm Latham & Watkins, “Google in this case is only doing voluntarily what they would probably have been forced to do under German and European law anyway.”
Though these changes were driven by the stricter legal policies in Europe, the concession made by Google will affect areas well beyond that continent, as Google intends to make this option globally available.
This decision appears only just over a year after having had another major battle with the European officials when the company began compiling its StreetView maps through the use of unencrypted internet data that it was collecting from residential Wi-Fi routers.
It has since issued an apology for the collection of that data, which it claims was a result of an error that was made by a programmer. It has also settled the majority of the other complaints it has faced from various countries by making apologies or by paying fines.