updated 09:05 pm EDT, Wed April 18, 2012
House's Markey wants Congress to hunt Google
Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey declared late Tuesday that he wanted further action against Google over its scraping Wi-Fi data with Street View cars. He was unhappy with the FCC decision, which found no reason for action over the actual data intercepts and fined Google only for allegedly obstructing the investigation. The veteran politician demanded that Congress "immediately" hold a hearing.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center joined in and filed a letter of complaint with US Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. regarding the FCC action. IT argued that the FCC publicly admitted it had avoided central issues, such as the possibility that Google was violating federal wiretap laws. After first claiming there was no sensitive information, Google later acknowledged that at least parts of messages, website addresses, and other private information had been collected by the cars.
Google has always maintained that the information was collected accidentally, the result of an engineer inadvertently leaving in code that was doing more than just marking the existence of Wi-Fi hotspots. The company eventually took major steps to put the action to a halt, including freezing all Street View mapping until the Wi-Fi was taken out and a reorganization of its privacy to demand tighter monitoring.
The FCC has the authority to fine, but it can't act with as much authority as the US legislature. Congress could potentially impose stiffer penalties or enact laws to require tougher privacy rules. [via The Boston Herald]