Google has been hit by a fine of £4.6m in the United States for using its Street View vehicle fleet to collect personal data without permission.

But rather than the controversial photos themselves, the fine relates to a different sort of privacy issue.

The search giant was found to have collected emails, passwords and web histories from home broadband networks between 2008 and 2010.

Google has not admitted wrongdoing, and said its fleet of vehicles picked up the data by accident and that it never sought to use it.

Instead it says that a single engineer included software code which accidentally collected the information from insecure WiFi networks.

"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," a statement from Google said.

"The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it."

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that the settlement "addresses privacy issues and protects the rights of people whose information was collected without their permission".

In a settlement with 38 US states, Google agreed to pay the fine and destroy the data. It has also launched a new training program that will give its employees a grounding in data security and privacy regulations.

In addition Google must run a "public service advertising campaign" about securing wireless networks at home.

David Gorodyansky, founder and CEO of digital security firm AnchorFree, said:

"This episode should stand as a testament to the need for all of us to take more control of our personal data online. We do our best to prevent intruders from getting into our homes by locking the doors and windows, we install alarms on our cars. The least we can do is take similar measures to protect our online data from strangers and would-be hackers."
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  • Let It Snow

    When you type "let it snow" into the search bar, Google sends a shower of snowflakes down your screen. But watch out! It gets frosty fast. If that happens, just use your cursor like an ice scraper or click "defrost." It's a good way to prepare for those frosty mornings in the car.

  • Do A Barrel Roll

    Wanna feel like you're flying a fighter jet while you look for things on the internet? Type <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=xx-piglatin#hl=xx-piglatin&source=hp&q=do+a+barrel+roll&btnG=Google+Earchsay&gbv=2&bav=cf.osb&fp=d9b1dc2a24b11a17&biw=1280&bih=615" target="_hplink">"do a barrel roll"</a> into the Google search bar and watch the whole page roll over.

  • Zerg Rush

    If you query Google for "Zerg Rush," you'll unlock a playable "Starcraft" homage that unleashes dozens of letter Os on the page. You can earn some points by clicking on the letters and stopping them in their tracks, but eventually they'll overwhelm and devour your search results. You can't win no matter how speedy your point-and-click skills.

  • What Is The Loneliest Number?

    You shouldn't be afraid to ask Google the hard questions. Query <a href="https://www.google.com/#pq=askew&hl=en&sugexp=kjrmc&cp=28&gs_id=42&xhr=t&q=what+is+the+loneliest+number&tok=D9RnikF6EoRNko2269EJ5Q&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=what+is+the+loneliest+number&aq=0&aqi=g1&aql=f&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=54eccb786198c044&biw=1280&bih=615" target="_hplink">"What is the loneliest number"</a> and Google's calculator will tell you that it is "1". The calculator returns the same answer when you query "the answer to life, the universe, and everything," as well as "the number of horns on a unicorn." Image via <a href="www.google.com" target="_hplink">Google</a>

  • Askew

    Get Google a little tipsy when you search<a href="https://www.google.com/#sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&source=hp&q=askew&pbx=1&oq=askew&aq=f&aqi=g-z2g2&aql=1&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=15450l16004l1l16189l5l4l0l0l0l0l171l599l1.3l4l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=54eccb786198c044&biw=1280&bih=615" target="_hplink"> "askew".</a> Image via <a href="www.google.com" target="_hplink">Google</a>

  • Google Gravity

    Tired of Google being so weightless all the time? Bring it down to Earth by entering "Google gravity" and clicking "I'm Feeling Lucky". Once the search bar, buttons and logo have collapsed into a heap at the bottom of the page, you can toss them around the page by clicking, dragging and releasing them.

  • Recursion

    You know when you're in a bathroom with lots of mirrors and you look into one and see your reflection <a href="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3043/2683236467_d9bce06ae5.jpg" target="_hplink">repeated into infinity?</a> That's called recursion. <a href="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/recursive" target="_hplink">According to Merriam-Webster,</a> the word means "a procedure that can repeat itself indefinitely." If you <a href="http://www.nochucknorris.com/" target="_hplink">Google with the word "recursion,"</a> Google will suggest the following at the top of its list of search results: "Did you mean: recursion." If you click Google's suggestion, a new page will load, but "Did you mean: recursion" will remain at the at the top of the results list. (With the time and inclination, you could go on and on like this forever.)

  • Where Is Chuck Norris?

    Google saves you from a roundhouse kick to the face by coming up empty when you attempt an "I'm Feeling Lucky" search for <a href="http://www.nochucknorris.com/" target="_hplink">"Where is Chuck Norris?"</a> Instead users are <a href="http://www.nochucknorris.com/" target="_hplink">taken to www.NoChuckNorris.com</a>, which displays text that reads, "Google won't search for Chuck Norris because it knows you don't find Chuck Norris, he finds you." The page also gives users an option to search "pages from Chuck's Beard."

  • Once In A Blue Moon

    The Google Calculator also returns more complicated answers. Query "baker's dozen" and the calculator returns "13." Searching "once in a blue moon" yields a comically small number (seen above).

  • Google Pig Latin

    Otay eesay Oogle'sgay omepagehay anslatedtray intoway Igpay Atinlay, ypetay <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=xx-piglatin" target="_hplink">"ooglegay igpay atinlay"</a> intoway Ooglegay andway ithay "I'mway Eelingfay Uckylay". You can also customize your Google search to <a href="http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en" target="_hplink">display text in a number of languages</a>, such French, German and Japanese, as well as Latin, Pirate and Klingon.

  • BONUS: Play 'Snake' In YouTube Videos

    If you're watching a dull video on YouTube.com, you can press the Up+Left arrows simultaneously to enjoys a game of "Snake" over the video. <a href="http://thenextweb.com/apps/2010/07/24/did-you-know-you-can-play-snake-on-youtube-while-watching-videos-hold-left/" target="_hplink">According to The Next Web</a>, this trick doesn't work for videos with "annotations or ads. It's limited to the videos played on YouTube's site and it doesn't work for embedded videos." Check out the video (above) to see how it's done.

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