New Google inquiry demanded after “slap on the wrist” $25k fine

Apr 17, 2012
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Complaints over the FCC's $25,000 fine of Google for its Street View data collection have escalated into demands for a new investigation, with privacy advocates and members of congress voicing concerns that Google got off too lightly. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) blasted Google and the FCC yesterday then promptly filed a letter of complaint to the US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the Boston Herald reports, arguing that even the FCC itself admitted the investigation was insufficient.

"By the agency’s own admission, the investigation conducted was inadequate and did not address the applicability of federal wiretapping law to Google’s interception of emails, user names, passwords, browsing histories and other personal information, executive director of EPIC Marc Rotenberg wrote in the letter. "Given the inadequacy of the FCC’s investigation and the law enforcement responsibilities of the attorney general, EPIC urges you to investigate Google’s collection of personal Wi-Fi data from residential networks."

The FCC had argued that it could not find a legal precedent to apply laws to cases of collecting data from unprotected WiFi networks, as Google had been discovered to have done with its Street View cars, and that it had found insufficient evidence that the search giant had violated any federal rules. It fined Google the maximum it could for failing to cooperate fully with the investigation.

"I am concerned that more needs to be done to fully investigate the company's understanding of what happened when consumer data was collected without their knowledge or permission. This fine is a mere slap on the wrist for Google" Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement about the FCC judgement. "Coupled with the company's recent changes to its privacy policy, it seems as if Google is making a U-turn in its commitment to protect consumer privacy as embodied in its settlement with the FTC."

The FCC had no further comment on the doubts raised by Congressman Markey and EPIC.


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