In its investigation of whether Google’s Street View cars illegally collected personal data from WiFi networks, the Federal Communications Commission has reached a decision that seems like a mix of good news and bad news for the search giant.
The good news: The FCC did not fine Google for violating electronic eavesdropping laws. Instead, it concluded that there was no precedent for the commissions’ enforcement of the law in connection with WiFi networks. The FCC also noted that, according to the available evidence, Google only collected data from unecrypted WiFi networks, not encrypted ones, and that it never accessed or used the data.
The bad news (which, given the size of the fine, isn’t too bad at all): The FCC is proposing to fine the company $25,000 because it “deliberately impeded and delayed the investigation” — specifically, it says that for several months, Google did not provide emails that the FCC requested or identify the engineer who authorized the data collection. “Google’s level of cooperation with this investigation fell well short of what we expect and require,” the commissions said.
Google can appeal the fine before it becomes final. A company spokesperson sent me the following statement: “We worked in good faith to answer the FCC’s questions throughout the inquiry, and we’re pleased that they have concluded that we complied with the law.”
[image via flickr/Tim Pritlove]
Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of online tools and platforms including: Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Google+, the company’s extension into the social space. Most of its Web-based products are free, funded by Google’s highly integrated online advertising platforms AdWords and AdSense. Google promotes the idea that advertising should be highly targeted and relevant to users thus providing...