April 15, 2012 - 17:14 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Federal Communications Commission proposed a $25,000 fine on Google Inc., GOOG -4.06% accusing the search giant of deliberately obstructing an investigation into whether the company violated federal rules when its street-mapping service collected and stored data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The agency proposed the fine late Friday April 13 night as it faced a deadline for taking action on the "Wi-Spy" case.
"We worked in good faith to answer the FCC's questions throughout the inquiry, and we are pleased that they have concluded that we complied with the law," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.
The FCC's action is based on what it said was Google's reluctance to cooperate with the investigation. In a notice released Saturday, the agency said that for several months, "Google deliberately impeded and delayed" the agency's investigation into the data collection. A Google engineer who developed the Street View code used to collect the data declined to provide testimony to the agency and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The agency did not fine Google for actually violating the federal communications law designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping. There is no precedent for applying the FCC law to unprotected Wi-Fi networks, and the agency concluded there was not enough evidence to conclude Google had violated those rules.
Google has a chance to appeal the proposed fine before it becomes final. The company has said that the data collection was inadvertent and that it stopped the practice when it discovered what was happening.
The FCC opened an investigation into the Google case in 2010 and was one of several agencies in the U.S. and abroad to investigate how the search giant gathered private user data from unsecured wireless networks.