Google fined for impeding Wi-Fi data investigation
Google has been fined $25,000 for hampering a US investigation into Street View Wi-Fi data sniffing.
Two years ago, Google was forced to admit it had picked up personal data while scanning Wi-Fi signals using a device attached to its Street View photography cars.
The Federal Communications Commission said Google had collected personal information without permission and had then deliberately not cooperated with the FCC’s investigation.
Google refused to identify any employees or produce any emails
“Google refused to identify any employees or produce any emails. The company could not supply compliant declarations without identifying employees it preferred not to identify,” according to an FCC order.
“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 said in a statement said it turned over information to the agency and challenged the finding that it was 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,” the company said in a statement. “We disagree with the FCC’s characterisation of our cooperation in their investigation and will be filing a response.”
Wi-Fi data debacle
Between May 2007 and May 2010, Google collected data from Wi-Fi networks throughout the United States, the UK and across the world as it photographed areas for its Street View map.
But Google also collected passwords, internet usage history and other sensitive personal data that was not needed for its location database project, the FCC said.
Google publicly acknowledged in May 2010 that it had collected the so-called payload data, leading to an FCC investigation on whether it had violated the Communications Act.
While the investigation is currently ongoing in the US, the UK’s Information Commissioner decided not to fine Google, requiring it to submit to audits from the watchdog instead.
A PC Pro investigation revealed Google’s relationship with the UK regulator was a bit friendlier than it appears with the FCC, openly discussing a critical MP and complaining the investigation was detracting from “actual work”.