Google hit with fine for street view data collection
But regulator found payload data collected from unprotected Wi-Fi networks wasn't illegal
By Christina DesMarais | PC World | Published 19:33, 16 April 12
Google has been slapped with a $25,000 fine (£16,000) by the Federal Communications Commission for impeding the agency's investigation into some Google's data gathering practice.
The fine was however a symbolic, but small penalty for a company worth $200 billion.
At issue is the finding nearly two years ago that Google Street View cars had been collecting payload data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks via code written for an experimental project.
Now the FCC, which has been looking into what happened with the data and why it was gathered in the first place, has ordered Google to open its big checkbook because the company "deliberately impeded and delayed" its investigation, reports The New York Times.
Google had said it was "profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data -including personal information such as passwords and emails - from unencrypted networks".
The FCC was initially satisfied with the response, but the agency says over time Google has repeatedly not responded to requests for information, took the position that searching employees' emails would be burdensome and would not name the employees involved because doing so "would serve no useful purposes."
Even so, the FCC has decided Google's data collection was not illegal because the information the company gleaned was not encrypted. The FCC also said it could not find a clear precedent to take enforcement action on the data collection. Google, for its part, says it is happy the FCC concluded it complied with the law.
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