updated 06:45 pm EDT, Sat April 14, 2012
FCC wants light penalty on Street View error
The FCC late Friday put forward a proposal for a $25,000 fine for Google's refusal to hand over Street View Wi-Fi data. Officials accused Google of having "deliberately impeded and delayed" an investigation into what information its Street View cars had collected from Wi-Fi hotspots. Among the obstacles was a refusal on Fifth Amendment grounds to testify by the engineer whose data scraping code was accidentally included on each car.
The agency stopped short of saying Google had violated laws about data spying, citing insufficient evidence. However, it saw the lack of compliance as a major issue in a case where the Wi-Fi collection included fragments of messages, web addresses, and other personally identifying information.
Google can appeal the fine, although it's not clear if the legal costs will be worth contesting the decision.
Much of the attention came from Google's attitude towards the Street View accident. It discvered the issue in May 2010, but at the time it insisted that there no meaningful data. Google would later admit that some identifiable data had been scraped and volunteered to delete that data in countries where an investigation didn't require the information stay active.