Received wisdom is that Google's informal company motto is the rather cuddly credo, 'Don't Be Evil'. However, a recent settlement the search engine giant agreed to pay out points to the notion, that while its recent behaviour may not have been flat out 'evil', you could certainly posit that it looks rather underhanded.
This is because Google has agreed to pay a $7 mllion fine (that's around £4.6 million) for collecting data from Wi-Fi hotspots without any authorisation via its Streetview service. A story published on the New York Times's website states that the company admitted to state officials that it had violated people's privacy by harvesting emails, passwords and other confidential information without their permission.
"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. " Consumers have a right to protect their vital personal and financial information from improper and unwanted use by corporations like Google.
Google says that the data harvested by its Google Streetview cars will be destroyed and that it won't collect data again in this manner. Some critics, however, have thrown doubt on this claim and say the fine - which is pretty paltry for a company as wealthy as Google - doesn't go far enough.