Earlier this month, the FCC decided to issue a $25,000 fine to Google for so-called “delays” in their investigation into Google’s street view-data collecting privacy flareup. Google says they’re going to pay the fine, but they’re not quite sure that the blame should rest solely on their shoulders. The $25,000 fine isn’t a punishment for the Steet View activities themselves, but for the lack of cooperation with the FCC’s investigation.
In a filing made to the FCC on Thursday, Google hit back at the FCC for saying that Google “obstructed” their investigation.
“Over the course of the 17 months it took the FCC to officially conclude its investigation, the commission did not contact Google for weeks and months at a time,” Google wrote. There were apparently a period of almost three months and another period of 52 days where the FCC never contacted Google.
“It is difficult to reconcile those lengthy delays with the FCC’s criticism of Google’s responses as ‘untimely,”” said Google.
Back in May, 2010, Google admitted that they had collected some data from Wi-Fi networks with their Street View cars. More than a year later, reports emerged that Google had not only collected locations of Wi-Fi access points, but actual addresses and identifiers of multiple devices attached to the networks as well. Google blamed the data collection snafu on a “rogue developer.”
Google addressed their inability to legally provide access to that developer in their filing:
“The fact that the engineer was legally unavailable did not leave any significant factual questions unanswered.”
Another new piece of information from the filing revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice had already looked into the issue and declared the matter closed back in May of 2011. The DOJ reportedly declared that they “would not pursue a case for violation of the Wiretap Act.”
Some people aren’t too pleased with the fine. The non-profit group Consumer Watchdog blasted both Google and the FCC, saying:
We’re pleased that the FCC called Google out for its blatantly obstructionist violations, but $25,000 is chump change to an Internet giant like Google.
By willfully violating the Commission’s orders, Google has managed to continue to hide the truth about Wi-Spy. Google wants everyone else’s information to be accessible, but in a demonstration of remarkable hypocrisy, stonewalls and keeps everything about itself secret.
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart also called out the FCC for the fine, saying it was “less than what you would get for a particularly flashy NFL touchdown dance.”