Alma Whitten, who was Google’s first privacy director, is to step down after three years in the role.
The position was created by the search giant after mistakes on privacy including Google’s Street View cars collecting personal data as they captured images of street scenes.
London-based Alma Whitten is being replaced in June by California-based Google software engineer Lawrence You.
Alma Whitten, who was Google’s first privacy director, is to step down after three years in the role
Google said Alma Whitten had “done so much to improve our products and protect our users”.
In a statement given to Forbes and other news sites, Google said: “The privacy and security teams, and everyone else at Google, will continue this hard work to ensure that our users’ data is kept safe and secure.”
In 2010, Google fell foul of governments, privacy watchdogs and users when it emerged that Street View cars copied e-mails and passwords from private Wi-Fi networks.
In the same year, the launch of the Buzz social network tool caused similar problems because Google enrolled millions of people into it without their permission.
Google also made lists of contacts and other details public.
In the wake of these mistakes – which led to multi-million dollar fines – Google appointed Alma Whitten to help ensure its software engineers took account of privacy as they developed new services and updated older ones.
Lawrence You, who has been at Google for 8 years, was one of the first recruits to the privacy team Alma Whitten assembled.
When he takes over, Lawrence You will manage a privacy and security team that numbers hundreds of workers.
Google has been fined $7 million for collecting people’s personal data without authorization as part of its Street View service.
In a settlement with 38 US states, Google agreed to destroy emails, passwords, and web histories.
The data was harvested from home wireless networks as Street View cars photographed neighborhoods between 2008 and 2010.
Google said it was pleased to have resolved the issue.
“We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn’t, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue,” Google said in a statement.
“The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn’t use it or even look at it. We’re pleased to have worked with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and the other state attorneys general to reach this agreement.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the legal settlement.
“Consumers have a right to protect their vital personal and financial information from improper and unwanted use by corporations like Google,” he said.
“This settlement addresses privacy issues and protects the rights of people whose information was collected without their permission.”
Google has been fined $7 million for collecting people’s personal data without authorization as part of its Street View service
As well as agreeing to delete all the harvested data, Google has also been required to launch an employee training program about privacy and data use which it must continue for at least ten years.
It must also launch a public service advertising campaign to educate consumers about how to secure their information on wireless networks.
Google claims it collected Wi-Fi data because of rogue code mistakenly included in the software by a lone engineer.
The controversy led data authorities around the world to demand Google made changes.