Published April 26, 2012
WASHINGTON – Google Inc. on Thursday agreed to pay a $25,000 fine to the Federal Communications Commission for allegedly impeding the agency's investigation into whether the company violated federal rules when its street-mapping service collected and stored data collected from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.
The FCC slapped Google with the small fine earlier this month for obstructing its investigation.
The agency said Google executives dragged their feet on providing information for the investigation and "deliberately impeded and delayed" the agency's investigation. A Google engineer who developed the code for Google's Street View service, which collected the data, declined to testify and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
In its response to the agency, Google noted that the FCC was the third US agency to look into the matter, following separate Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission investigations. The company suggested that it didn't provide "untimely" responses, rather delays by investigators lengthened the agency's review. The company said it cooperated with the FCC's investigation.
Google told the agency in a letter that it "disagrees with the premise" of the fine, but "has determined to pay the forfeiture proposed [by the FCC] in order to put this investigation behind it."
FCC officials said they didn't find enough evidence to conclude that Google violated the federal law designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping in the so-called "Wi-Spy" affair.
On Thursday, an FCC spokeswoman said the agency stood behind the Google fine. "In promising to pay the penalty, the company has rightly admitted wrongdoing," she said.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company Inc.