updated 12:10 am EDT, Fri April 20, 2012
Privacy group files Freedom of Information request
Thursday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the unredacted FCC report on Google's Street View. Epic is also requesting any related documents used in the investigation pertinent to the 25-page, heavily-censored report that was released last week. By Google's own admission, between 2008 and 2010 their street mapping vans collected names, telephone numbers, passwords, email, medical records, media files, and other information from open and unsecure Wi-Fi routers.
Contrary to a Federal judge's ruling last year, last week's report didn't find that any laws were violated -- but still proposed a $25,000 fine for Google's interference with the investigation related to the street mapping and personal data collection. US Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) views the fine as nothing more as a slap on the wrist, as Google requires only 68 seconds to generate enough money to pay the fine.
The FCC's investigation of Google focused on potential violations of federal wiretapping laws. Specific acts detailed in the report were redacted, which raised questions with Marc Rotenberg, EPIC's executive director. Rotenberg questioned the redactions, and was concerned about the scope of the FCC's investigation. Prior to the FOIA request, EPIC requested that the Department of Justice investigate the collection of the Wi-Fi data.
The Freedom of Information Act was originally enacted in 1967 with amendments made to to the act for the internet age in October of 1996. While the FOIA is only pertinent to Federal agencies, similar state and county laws exist. Subjects of a FOIA request are allowed to omit information, called redaction, when the material in question may reveal national defense information or sensitive commercial secrets which would put the subject of a document at significant competitive disadvantage.