April 16, 2012
FCC Seeks $25K Fine In Google Street View Probe
An April 13 filing from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) disclosed that the federal agency is seeking to levy a $25,000 fine against Google, citing that the Mountain View, California-based search giant was uncooperative during an investigation into its Street View location service, Bloomberg reporters Brian Womack and Todd Shields wrote on Sunday.
In the partially-redacted filing released to the public Saturday, the FCC said that Google "deliberately impeded and delayed" a probe into the website's collection of personal information over unprotected wireless networks both domestically and abroad as part of their Street View program, PCMag.com's Damon Poeter said.
They are requesting that the Enforcement Bureau of the commission hand down the penalty in response for activities that took place between May 2007 and May 2010, he added. The $25,000 fine is the maximum the FCC can hand down for not cooperating with an investigation, an FCC spokesperson told Bloomberg.
According to David Streitfeld of the New York Times, the "exasperated tone" of the recent FCC filing is "in marked contrast" to a 2010 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into the same matter. In the years following the FTC investigation, the FCC said that Google has, in Streitfeld's words, "repeatedly failed to respond to requests for e-mails and other information and refused to identify the employees involved."
With the FCC's investigation ultimately determined that the collection of the data was legal because it was not encrypted, they said that Google argued that searching employee emails would be "a time-consuming and burdensome task," and that the company refused to identify the engineer behind the system because he had invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating himself, the New York Times added.
A Google spokesperson told Streitfeld on Saturday that the company had "worked in good faith" with the FCC during the investigation, and that the company was "pleased that they have concluded that we complied with the law."
In spite of that ruling, the FCC's accusations could damage the Web's most used search engine.
As Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling told Bloomberg, the fine itself will likely have little impact financially, but would nonetheless do serious harm unto the company. "This contributes to an image problem," he said. "Many lawmakers and regulators have a negative view of Google, and this just reinforces that."