FCC fines Google $25,000 for impeding data-collection probe

A Google employee drives a Street View car around Palo Alto, Calif.
(Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

Google is facing a $25,000 fine for impeding a Federal Communications Commission investigation into the tech giant’s data-collection practices.

The world’s largest search engine came under fire two years ago when it was revealed that its popular but controversial street-mapping program -- in which cars snap photos of homes, intersections and other neighborhood features -- was also picking up sensitive information from home wireless networks such as email and text messages, passwords and Internet usage history.

The FCC, which filed its 25-page report Friday, said despite Google admitting wrongdoing at the time, the company has since “deliberately impeded and delayed” the agency’s probe into the matter, according to the New York Times.

Specifically, the FCC said Google was not responding to email requests for more information and was refusing to identify the employees involved.


Despite the relatively small fine, the FCC noted that the data collection was legal because the information was not encrypted, according to the New York Times.

The investigation raises a fresh round of questions over the right to privacy in an increasingly digital world. In a recent statewide poll, the vast majority of Californians said they were worried about the data collected by smartphone and Internet companies, and most said they distrust even firms that are known for having tens of millions of users, such as Facebook.

Calls and emails to Google were not returned Sunday morning.

Two years ago, a separate probe by the Federal Trade Commission into Google’s Street View project led the agency to announce that it was satisfied with the tech firm’s explanation into its data-collection practices and would not impose any fines.



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