SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's communications watchdog said Tuesday it has decided to impose a 212 million won (US$196,938) fine on Google Inc. for illegally collecting personal data through street imaging technology.
The Korea Communications Commission said although the fines are 10 percent higher than the legal ceiling of 193 million won, such a heavy penalty was necessary due to the country's rising concerns over information privacy.
The current South Korean law stipulates fines amounting to 1 percent of revenue for companies that gather personal data unlawfully.
Local investigators said Google's camera-equipped vehicles used for its "Street View" service not only shot 360-degree images of streets in major cities, but also collected serial numbers of wireless devices on Wi-Fi networks as well as mobile text messages exchanged between the networks' users.
They said Google has collected some 604,000 items of personal information, which includes e-mail addresses and credit card numbers.
The commission said the U.S. internet giant has to delete all data collected illegally and post the KCC's decision on its Web page.