April 28, 2012
Google Versus The Feds: The Dirty Follow-up
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
When two people fight, the initial altercation usually isn´t the worst part; It´s the following weeks, months or even years of terse words, stared daggers and awkward moments-in-passing. Now that the FCC and Google have had their run-ins in court, the most gruesome and gossip-worthy moments in FCC v Google may be just ahead as each side lob verbal bombs and meager fines at one another.
Like many of Google´s products, regardless if they currently exist, Street View began with a great idea.
“What if there was a way to actually see the directions on a map instead of simply reading a list?”
Thus, Google Maps Street View, one of their great ideas that took hold. The devil is in the details, however, as the Search Giant came under fire when their data-and-image collecting cars worked a little too well, picking up private information from nearby residences and unsecured networks. In the beginning of this specific fight with the FCC, Google was asked to account for their actions and explain how the search giant was able to collect such private information.
Firing first, the Feds released a report earlier this month, saying the Internet Giant from Mountain View “deliberately impeded and delayed” their investigations for months as they never responded to requests for info and documents.
In the end, the FCC said they would take no action against Google over their data collection other than asking for a $25,000 slap-on-the-wrist. Now, Google is on the offensive, saying they´ll pay the fine, but they aren´t too happy about it.
In a 14-page long diatribe, Google set out to explain that they had done nothing wrong in collecting the data captured via unsecured, local networks.
Pointing their finger at the Feds, Google says the entire 17-month ordeal would have gone much more quickly if the FCC hadn´t taken their time in their investigation. According to Google, the Feds often took 7 to 12 weeks to respond to information they had sent to the agency. In fact, Google says the investigation took so long, the legal window of opportunity would have closed on the case had the company not agreed to a seven-month extension.
"That is hardly the act of a party stonewalling an investigation," Google lawyer E. Ashton Johnston wrote in the letter to P. Michele Ellison, the chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"Rather, it is a demonstration of Google's interest in cooperating and allowing the FCC time to conduct a thorough investigation."
Google´s lengthy letter also said they had given the agency more than 800 pages of information to aid in the investigation, satisfying various requests during the process. They also mentioned for the first time their cooperation with the Department of Justice in a separate investigation over the capture of this data. In the end, the DoJ decided to take no action against Google.
As the final kiss-off in this case, Google said they´d pay the fine to the FCC, but they´d also close the agency´s investigation. It´s not likely this will be the last time these two entities run in with one another, however. Only time will tell who will have the very last word.