FCC Fines Google, Says It Was Deliberately Impeding Street View Investigation

The Federal Communications Commission is going after Google, even though they’ve officially cleared the company of charges that it had collected WiFi data illegally with its Street View Cars. While they didn’t do that on purpose, the FCC says Google was deliberately obstructing the investigation into those charges.

They’re fining Google $25,000 for not helping regulators deal with the matter, says the Washington Post.

“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,” the filing said.

Google had claimed that the data collection was accidental, and has been investigated in other countries outside the U.S., including Canada, France and the Netherlands.

Google, obviously, disagrees with the FCC’s filing.

“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,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. “We disagree with the FCC’s characterization of our cooperation in their investigation and will be filing a response.”

Previously: Google In Hot Water For Collecting Data From Your Wireless Networks

Google fined by FCC for impeding Street View probe [Washington Post]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coffee says:

    FCC: You’re in big trouble, Google…impeding an investigation is serious business.

    Google: *sends all the investigators street view photos of each of their houses*

    FCC: Um…so were going to fine you $25,000.

    Google: C:

  2. MutantMonkey says:

    Did the Google lawyer dig around in his car seat a few seconds to collect the $25k or did he already have it in his pocket?

  3. Sarek says:

    $25K is round-off error to their accounting. They probably spend that on lunch.

  4. Cat says:

    $25,000. Ouch?

  5. Gman says:

    Whomever impeded a federal investigation should be put in jail for the appropriate amount of time. Just like any of us would.

    If the corporation refuses to tell names of the eventual decision maker either through “accidental” deletion of all evidence or just continuing to ignore calls, then the CEO/President should be arrested.

    Why? It is ultimately that person’s responsibility. It is their company and they should take responsibility if something illegal happens and the person is not found.

    • Gman says:

      [dang no edit button]

      Clarification: Of course there should be a proper court case and everything. Can’t just throw people in jail on suspicion.

      Someone had to of made the decision to refuse to give evidence and that person should be held responsible.

      • KyBash says:

        It’s probably not that anyone made a decision to withhold information but rather that the person who received the request for information wasn’t cable of supplying it and Google has no infrastructure for transferring requests.

        It’s gross incompetence rather than malicious intent. Anyone who has had to deal with them has suffered the same fate.

        • Firethorn says:

          +1 – The first person gets a request, who has it for a couple days until it comes up in his queue or he understands that it’s not a problem for his level and thus forwards it up. His boss sits on it a couple days doing the same thing, makes a few calls, rinse repeat until it goes to a dude who’s out sick/vacation/whatever, where it goes unnoticed for a month.

      • Rachacha says:

        irepliesI am not saying that it was the case here, but it is possible that some things are simply mistakes and there was no one who approved the decision to do something because there was no concious decision.
        Google was collecting WiFi access point SSID names with its street view data to provide better resolution in areas where GPS signal was low. They discovered that they were accidentally collecting and storing bits of data on unprotected hotspots as they drove by. They admitted the mistake and corrected the code so that the data was no longer stored. The government came in and conducted an investigation and determined that Google did nothing wrong (it was an accident and they self corrected). Google did not decide to collect and store data that was being transmitted as they drove by, they simply did not realize initially that their code would capture and store the data. As no one made the decision to collect data, they can not turn over the decision maker.

        • Bladerunner says:

          But, and bearing in mind I doubt the facts of this case warrant event this action on the FCCs part, regardless of whether it’s “standard incompetence” or not, the point was that a regular citizen who impedes an investigation is jailed. A corporation is fined an amount that, in this case, is what, .001 of its net worth?

    • He says:

      Right, they should all be forced to incriminate themselves for not helping do the goverment’s job finding noncrimes to notprosecute.

    • vx15i says:

      There was no legal requirement for Google to provide any information to the FCC. The subpoenaed engineer invoked his 5th Amendment rights.

  6. Robert Nagel says:

    Let the shake down begin. Their problems should go away with a few judiciously placed “contributions”.

  7. tz says:

    Even the FCC can’t reach a real person to resolve problems at google. Did they try posting their questions in the appropriate help forum?

  8. mcgyver210 says:

    Classic Government Abuse of Power. If they don’t find anything just make up what ever they want to so they still get to STEAL $$$$s from their victim.

  9. LanMan04 says:

    How is collecting the payloads of unencrypted wifi packets illegal?

    It’s like broadcasting an FM radio station and saying it’s illegal to listen to. It makes no sense.

    • Rachacha says:

      It is my understanding that the government found nothing wrong/illegal with Google’s actions in collecting SSiD names and for a period of time, collecting a few random packets and storing them (accidentally). The FCC fined them for impeding the investigation.

      The fine is going to have no impact on Google that has a value of over $163,000,000,000. Converting Google’s value into something more realistic that most people can grasp, if the FCC fined a person making $60,000/year the same percentage that they fined Google, they would collect $0.009…yep, less than 1 cent