FCC Slaps Google with Fine For Hindering Federal Investigation

Google has been fined $25,000 for supposedly getting in the way of a U.S. investigation into how the company collects data for its Street View project, which lets …

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Google has been fined $25,000 for supposedly getting in the way of a U.S. investigation into how the company collects data for its Street View project, which lets users visibly review street level images when they map a particular location.

In return for this obstruction, Google has been slapped with a $25,000 fine by the Federal Communications Commission.

Ultimately, Google probably has that much in loose change around the sofas of the company’s headquarters. But the fine is still significant in what it represents, not how much fiscal damage it does to the company.

“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,” FCC’s filing reads. “Google refused to identify any employees or produce any e-mails. The company could not supply compliant declarations without identifying employees it preferred not to identify.”

“Misconduct of this nature threatens to compromise the commission’s ability to effectively investigate possible violations of the Communications Act and the commission’s rules.”

Google says it provided all requested information and is puzzled by the claims from FCC officials, which imply that Google was somehow uncooperative.

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

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  1.    Reply

    The heavily redacted statement (PDF) by the FCC painted Google as being too busy to respond with alacrity to its request for information and suggested more than slight frustration.
    "Although a world leader in digital search capability, Google took the position that searching its employees' e-mail 'would be a time-consuming and burdensome task,'" the report said. It also said that Google refused to release the names of the individuals responsible for the program.

  2.    Reply

    The government started its investigation a couple of years ago after Google was found to have collected and stored payload data from unencrypted wireless networks as part of a project where it Wi-Fi-enabled Street View cars got sent around the United States and Europe. At the time, Google said this was inadvertent and that it was trying to compile a list of Wi-Fi network hotspots as a way to enhance to geolocation services on mobile devices through 'assisted-GPS.'
    European regulators later forced Google to offer an opt-out service.

  3.    Reply

    Frustrated by Google's slow response, the Federal Communications Commission slapped a $25,000 fine on the company, alleging that the Web giant "deliberately impeded and delayed" its probe into the policies governing the StreetView street-mapping service.