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Google Government Technology

FCC Wants To Fine Google $25K For WiFi Investigation 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the dragging-your-feet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It's good and bad news for Google. The FCC has ruled that Google did nothing wrong when it accidentally collected WiFi data with its Street View cars: '[The FCC] concluded that there was no precedent for the commissions' enforcement of the law in connection with WiFi networks. The FCC also noted that, according to the available evidence, Google only collected data from unencrypted WiFi networks, not encrypted ones, and that it never accessed or used the data.' However, they want to fine the company $25,000 because it 'deliberately impeded and delayed the investigation.'"
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FCC Wants To Fine Google $25K For WiFi Investigation

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  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @01:37PM (#39694621)
    Well, you know, seeing as how impeding an official investigation is actually something you can be charged and convicted of in a criminal investigation, it seems only fair that it should be a finable offense in an investigation such as this.
  • Re:Also known as (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @01:43PM (#39694667)

    You can delay the proceedings by not providing information in a timely manner.

  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by divide overflow (599608) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @01:54PM (#39694719)

    how can you impede something that you are innocent of ?

    Isn't that the equivalent of saying - "I did not do it" and continuing to protest such ?

    No, because the delay was separate from their declaration of innocence. They impeded the government's investigation by not providing the court subpoenaed information relevant to the investigation in a timely manner. When investigations go on longer than necessary it increases the workload for the investigators and their assistants and results in increased the costs to the taxpayer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:01PM (#39694769)

    It's actually a quite understandable mistake: "Gee, sending these cars around is expensive. We just want MAC info for geolocation, but what if we screw something up? If we have to revisit an area I'll get yelled at...best to just log everything and filter it out later"

  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by divide overflow (599608) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:03PM (#39694783)

    "Hey, our budget could very well get cut soon. Let's fine people for things!" That's what I suspect the FCC's reasoning is. They just wont admit it.

    That makes no sense. $25k is nothing to either Google OR the FCC and wouldn't impress any legislator responsible for approving FCC budgets. The fines probably go into some general government pool that wouldn't affect their resources.

    What makes more sense is the FCC did this to give other corporations the message that they need to come clean about what they've done and not drag their feet providing subpoenaed information.

  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sribe (304414) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:19PM (#39694883)

    Well, yes, but. What did google do to "impede" the investigation??? What I recall is that google resisted handing over other people's information to a federal agency that was claiming that collecting that information was a privacy breach--in other words, google was trying to mitigate the damage, if any, done to people, based on the theory that if it really was a privacy breach to collect the information, it would be more of a privacy breach to disseminate it. I seem to recall google offering to answer lots of questions about the type of info, but only resisting turning it over en masse.

    Let's face it: "hey collecting that data was a huge privacy breach, now hand it over to us" is really not a reasonable stance ;-)

  • by cgenman (325138) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:34PM (#39695001) Homepage

    Wifi sniffing is what you have to do to get Mac Addresses and SSID's for Geolocation, as well as any sort of WiFi related work these days (Thanks, Dumb Bastards who turn off SSID broadcast!). At core, that's all Google was collecting, a basic WiFi sniff. I have to do it all the time if I want to figure out what jerk is invisibly camping the section of spectrum I'm using. And in classic Google fashion, they probably figured they could sort through and filter out the data they needed back at Google Central, rather than doing it in-car.

    Honestly, the most shocking thing is the public's ignorance of the technology they use every day.

  • Re:Also known as (Score:4, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:52PM (#39695129) Journal
    It's 25 grand. It sends a message that they're petty and insecure. Google should fight it up to $25K worth of government lawyers time to be equally petty.
  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:55PM (#39695147)

    When investigations go on longer than necessary it increases the workload for the investigators and their assistants and results in increased the costs to the taxpayer.

    It seems they requested information that took Google a few months to produce. Google did not provide emails that the FCC requested or identify the engineer who authorized the data collection

    It doesn't seem that apparent that Google was attempting to delay the investigation. If the FCC requests a company produce all e-mails that meet a certain criteria, that can be a huge burden for IT that may inherently take many man hours, and they have to be certain that what is produced is complete, before sending anything -- or be at risk of being accused of attempting to conceal or failing to comply with the order to produce.

    As for reporting on 'which engineer authorized the data collection'; that may be a rather complicated matter as well -- the various entities involved need to complete their finger pointing and internal investigations and review of internal records to figure out who actually did what.
    That would be even more complicated if no engineer specifically authorized the data collection, but hey...

    A 2 or 3 month delay begins to sound quite plausible, and not unreasonable. It could very well be innocent ineptitude, poor management, or inefficiency in doing the work to satisfy unusual requests, to draw matters out further, it's not necessary to conclude malice.

    Without specific evidence of intentional delay, there's no basis for a fine.

  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) * on Sunday April 15, 2012 @04:12PM (#39695571)

    You can delay the proceedings by not providing information in a timely manner.

    The FCC can also get a subpoena instead of asking Google to voluntarily throw an employee under the bus.

  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymus (2267354) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @05:27PM (#39695951)

    But then what's the point of being rich if it doesn't mean that you're above the law?

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