For the past year and half Google has been part of a Federal Communications Commission probe in regards to private information the company collected as part of its Street View feature.
With the probe finally finished, the FCC is accusing Google of impeding their investigation and is fining them $25,000.
Since November 2010, the FCC has been probing a report that Google, while collecting data for its Street View feature on Google Maps from 2007 through 2010, was also collecting “payload” data, including the e-mails, passwords and text messages of the wireless home networks in those neighborhoods. Google admitted that the data collection happened, called it “a mistake” and tried to blame the incident on one engineer.
The FCC filing, dated April 13, 2012, outlines how Google repeatedly ignored their requests for information.
“For many months, Google deliberately impeded and delayed the Bureau’s investigation by failing to respond to requests for material information and to provide certifications and verifications of its responses. In the Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), we find that Google apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Commission orders to produce certain information and documents that the Commission required for its investigation,” the report reads.
The report states that when asked by the FCC for documentation, Google told them that a comprehensive review of its employees e-mails a ‘would be a time-consuming and burdensome task.’
Google also refused to identify the employees involved in the incident, including those who had authorized it nor those who had reviewed the payload data, and did not fully respond to the FCC’s inquiry that began in November 2010 until early September 2011.
The FCC plainly stated in its report why they were leveling the fine at Google.
“We find that Google is apparently liable for a forfeiture of $25,000 based on the Company’s apparent failure to timely (1) provide compliant declarations verifying the completeness and accuracy of its LOI responses for a period of almost nine months, (2) identify Google employees with knowledge of relevant facts, and (3) search for and produce any emails.”
"As the FCC notes in their report, we provided all the materials the regulators felt they needed to conclude their investigation and we were not found to have violated any laws. We disagree with the FCC’s characterization of our cooperation in their investigation and will be filing a response," Google said in a statement.
While chastising and fining Google for its lack to cooperation in regards to the investigation, the FCC also found that the collection of the payload data was not illegal because “Google collected payload data only from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks, not from encrypted ones.”
Google’s privacy settings have been causing the company numerous headaches recently, with Franceaccusing the company of making its new privacy settings too complicated for the average user, and Spain debating where or not its citizens have the right to block their private information from appearing on Google searches.
Those investigations appear to be ongoing.
(Image source: seogate.net)