Jon Stewart Derides FCC for Weak Google Spying Fine

    April 20, 2012
    Drew Bowling
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Do you remember earlier this week when the Federal Communications Commission issued a $25,000 fine to Google? You know, because of the unauthorized collection of personal information Google obtained from unsecured wi-fi networks while the Google Street View car was cruising around taking photos for Google Maps? If you do, good on you – you’re olfactory senses are keen to the smell of rotten. However, you would be forgiven for not remembering because the risible amount of the fine was hardly of note. In Google terms of money, it was less a fine and more like losing a few quarters to the cushioned trenches of the living room couch.

Worse, the investigation was dropped by the FCC. And the fine wasn’t because Google was eavesdropping on unsecured wi-fi networks, either – it was because of Google’s obstinate lack of cooperation with the FCC’s investigation.

While consumer advocacy groups have decried the FCC for taking a knee on Google’s wi-fi spying, the scandal officially debuted in the mainstream this past Wednesday when The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart assailed the government agency for producing a yawn in place of its Google investigation.

Stewart repeatedly expressed his trademark derision-enshrouded-in-sarcasm at the FCC for letting Google essentially get away with spying on people. Mocking the amount that Google was fined, Stewart described the fine as “less than what you would get for a particularly flashy NFL touchdown dance.”

Stewart’s final three words, delivered in such a way that was meant to clearly entertain, impute a bracing gravity of the entire situation when it comes to the government’s lack of interest or understanding in actually penalizing Google in a meaningful way: “We’re completely f—ed.”

The full video is below.

Of course, some have suggested that the FCC’s fine could step up the expected fines Google could receive from the Federal Trade Commission due to the company’s circumvention of the privacy settings of Safari users. Then again, The FCC’s lax punishment to Google could also swing the other way by setting the precedent of going easy on the search engine goliath when they don’t play by the rules.

  • SF Ray

    Funny, considering that Google enforce’s what they call ethics on everyone else, while they don’t play fair and get away with murder. Would be nice to see someone take Google down, or at least hit them with some major fines that they deserve.

  • http://www.urbaninsuranceagency.com Larry Lubell

    Jon Stewart in a few words can express that which would take others an hour long show.
    The idea of Google being bothered, or changing their ways based on a $2,500 fine is comical, thus why it fell into the realm of the Daily Show.

  • jamack

    If Google was an average citizen there would probably jail time. Must be nice to be Google.

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    I was upset when I heard about what Google was doing, but then my wi-fi is secure. In fact, I don’t even allow my wi-fi router to broadcast that it’s up and running at all. But that still should not get Google off the hook for violating privacy laws. I don’t think there could be a big enough fine that Google wouldn’t just break out the checkbook, and I think it’s about time that if corporations still want to be treated like people then the laws need to start applying to them as they apply to people. Somebody gave the ok to put data collecting wi-fi antennas in those street view vehicles and somebody created the software to run it. Find those people and charge them with a crime. You arrest a few Google employees and I guarantee you that Google make sure no more questionable or illegal activities will continue to go on over at Google.

  • http://www.masteringyourwebsite.com/ John

    Hopefully Stewart will keep up the focus on Internet issues. He has been pretty entertaining with all of this lately.

  • http://signaturedetailing.com Greg Gellas

    So they took information off an unsecured network. But bottom line:

    1. What did they do with it?
    2. Who was harmed?

    That’s what bothers me about the “privacy” outrage. I don’t see proof of harm.