30 Apr 2012

Google Fined $25,000, but “Not Guilty,” in Street View Data Collection Case

The US Federal Communications Commission has fined Google with a $25,000 (£15,300) fine for interfering with the company’s investigation in the Street View Wi-Fi data collection case. 

While the ruling was “not guilty,” a redacted version of the FCC’s official report has been published online, explaining that all collected data was accessible to everyone thus absolving the search engine giant.

“The Wiretap Act provides, ‘It shall not be unlawful under this chapter or chapter 121 of this title for any person to intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public,’” states the FCC report.

The Google engineer in charge of writing the data collection code has been identified by the FCC, but his identity has been kept secret. The FCC also notes that several other Street View team members were made aware of the data collection, but Google’s employees declared they only learned about this in April or May 2010.

“As early as 2007 and 2008, therefore, Street View team members had wide access to Engineers Doe’s Wi-Fi data collection design document and code, which revealed his plan to collect payload data,” says the report. “Nevertheless, managers of the Street View project and other Google employees who worked on Street View have uniformly asserted in declarations and interviews that they did not learn the Street View cars were collecting payload data until April or May 2010.”