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Google Government Technology

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

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, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:43PM (#39694665)

    Given that the FCC's budget is somewhere around $350 million, levying fines of $0.025 million doesn't seem like a plausible funding strategy. That's just noise to both the FCC and Google's budgets. Imo it's more likely that it's just a symbolic fine.

  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:48PM (#39694685)
    When queried by multiple governments (incl. France) why Google's Streetview Cars seem to drive around cities collecting all sorts of private data on people's personal/home Wifi setups (like username:password), Google's apparent explanation/excuse was that the collection of Wifi data was "completely accidental", and a "the result of a mistake made by one engineer". The story then gets all weird, because Google refused to hand over requested internal emails to aid the investigation, and also refused to give up the name of the "one engineer" who supposedly "OK'd the Wifi sniffing". The real story seems to be that Google once again "went way too far" in trying to collect "useful data", then made up a seriously silly excuse about some engineer making a "mistake", and personal Wifi data being collected as a result. (How on earth does a "mistake" enable a StreetView Car to suddenly collect detailed Wifi hotspot data? Wouldn't the car need to be purposely equipped with software and antennas capable of this, and also explicitly configured to do so?)
  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anarchduke ( 1551707 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @02:50PM (#39694695)
    Actually, I think this is a violation of Google's 5th amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. I know that we've never applied the 5th amendment to corporations before, but if you think about the Citizen's United ruling, the Supreme Court has already said that corporations are people and enjoy 1st amendment rights. Why couldn't they enjoy 5th amendment rights as well?
    In fact, I would enjoy seeing a corporation take a case like this to the Supreme Court and say, "I am legally a person and so the blah blah blah law shouldn't apply to me because it is a violation of my Nth amendment rights as a person.
  • Re:Also known as (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @03:05PM (#39694789)

    Jeez, when I want to get to work a little faster, I'm risking a fine that's equivalent to several hours of pay, and I only get paid 2000 hours a year... Google gives federal investigators a hard time and they only propose to fine them about 3 seconds [] of gross profit?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @03:17PM (#39694869)

    They did equip the cars with software and antennas to collect hotspot data. It was supposed to only collect basic data such as mac addresses and ssids (helpful for statistics and assisted geolocating), but it was mistakenly configured to also collect traffic from sniffing in promiscuous mode. I believe that it being an accident is perfectably reasonable.

    And I personally believe it shouldn't be wrong to do. Sure, it was data they couldn't use, but it /was/ broadcasted on public air waves.

    Also, no one would have even known if Google themselves hadn't said they accidentally collected the data. They could have just purged that data, but instead they did the Right Thing and reported the accident. Now they're paying the consequences of disclosure, instead of being a good normal company and saying nothing.

    Just remember, if you frak up, cover it up instead of admitting your mistakes.

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

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @03:23PM (#39694915) Homepage

    It seems like the sort of fine that would get on the record that Google was being uncooperative. In the future, the FCC can use this to convince judges of larger fines or stronger enforcement provisions to convince Google to live up to its data release requirements.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger