FCC Fines Google for Impeding Investigation

Google plans to file a response

The Federal Communications Commission late Friday proposed slapping Google with a $25,000 fine for impeding the commission’s investigation into whether the data it collected from consumers via its Street Views product violated the Communications Act.

Between 2007 and 2010, Google’s Street Views product downloaded personal WiFi network information without permission. In addition to the FCC, the Federal Trade Commission also launched an investigation into Street View but did not take any action.

While the FCC also could not conclude that Google violated any laws, it did find that the search giant dragged its feet during the probe.

“Google deliberately impeded and delayed the Bureau’s investigation by failing to respond to requests for material information and to provide certifications and verifications of its responses.…We find that Google apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Commission orders to produce certain information and documents that the Commission required for its investigation,” the FCC wrote in a 25-page report.

In a statement, Google disagreed that it was uncooperative with the FCC and said it would file a response: "As the FCC notes in their report, we provided all the materials the regulators felt they needed to conclude their investigation, and we were not found to have violated any laws."

Google has been under constant attack for its privacy policies, most recently stirring up controversy over a major change in its privacy policy. The company is also under a 20-year settlement with the FTC, which subjects Google to yearly audits.

Lawmakers remain skeptical about Google’s privacy practices. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called the FCC’s fine “a mere slap on the wrist” for a company that recently reported first-quarter revenue of more than $10.6 billion.

“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. As Congress continues our discussion of ensuring online privacy for consumers, especially for children and teens, I will continue to actively monitor this situation, which can help to inform policy moving forward,” Markey said.