Google fined $25,000 for impeding US investigation

Google, Inc. [company profile] was fined [order text, PDF] $25,000 on Friday by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] for the company's failure to cooperate with the a federal investigation. Google incurred the fine by refusing to disclose information on its alleged collection of personal information without permission during its Street View [corporate website] project. The FCC imposed the fine [Reuters report] finding that Google refused to release names of employees or turn over any emails relating to the project. The FCC stated: "[f]or many months, 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." The allegations against Google stem from the company's collection of information from May 2007 to May 2010. Google compiled information from unsecured wireless networks to supplement its Street View project, but also collected sensitive information such as passwords and internet usage history. The FCC argues that this information is not relevant to Google's Street View project. Google has acknowledged that it did collect the data.

Google has recently been involved in other lawsuits, both nationally and internationally. Earlier this month, the full Federal Court of Australia ruled that the company engaged in advertising practices that were deceptive and misleading [JURIST report], resulting in a violation of the country's consumer protection laws. Last month, a Japanese court ordered Google to remove certain search terms [JURIST report] that a Japanese man claimed violated his privacy, by suggesting his name in connection with crimes he did not commit. Google issued a letter [JURIST report] in February in response to concerns raised by members of Congress regarding consumer privacy rights as impacted by the search giant's new privacy policy. In its response Google replied to 11 specific questions posed in a letter sent the week before [JURIST report]. Google's response included a confirmation that no new types of data are going to be collected with the advent of the new privacy policy, a list of those services that can be used without signing into a Google Account, the reasons for data sharing between Google products, and a description of the process for data deletion when a user closes an account, along with background information on the motivation for the policy changes.

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