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FCC: "Google Deliberately Impeded and Delayed" Wi-Spy Investigation

The Federal Communications Commission hit Google with a $25,000 fine on Friday after “Google deliberately impeded and delayed” its investigation into whether Google was “violating the federal communications law designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping” when its Street View project collected and stored data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.

Google’s behavior during the investigation fits into a familiar pattern of hiding the truth and acting above the law.

The FCC was not able to fully carry out its investigation because the engineer in charge of the project at Google invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to talk.  According to a Google spokeswoman, “It was a mistake for us to include code in our software that collected payload data, but we believe we did nothing illegal.”

Except for hiding the truth.

First, Google said it was not collecting personal data. Then Google said it had collected some data, but only in fragments. Then Google admitted it had data, which proved to include entire emails, texts and financial and medical information collected from January 2008 to April 2010.

Recently, Google’s own founder Sergey Brin said: “We do everything possible to protect the data. If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great.

Still, legislators and other organizations are not pleased with the FCC’s fine and have come forth calling it a “slap on the wrist”:

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who was the Attorney General in Connecticut and investigated the incident, said, “The federal government ought to be asking more questions and seeking more answers.”

Electronic Privacy Information Center Executive Director Marc Rotenberg added, “The inside-Washington view, of course, is that Google exercises disproportionate influence with the regulatory agencies.”

Google’s recent behavior is just another example that when it comes to the search giant, “Trust Us” is not enough.