Feeds

Google to FCC: Protecting Street View coder didn't derail probe

No need to out engineer in Wi-Fi data slurp, says ad giant

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Google has claimed to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that protecting the identity of the engineer responsible for the Street View data slurp had no consequence on the watchdog's investigation.

The probe ended with the FCC fining Google $25,000 for impeding its inquiry into the company's fleet of photo-snapping cars that inadvertently collected payload data including emails and passwords from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.

Because the data slurped had been unencrypted, the Commission ruled that Google's actions could not be considered illegal under the US Wiretap Act. Instead the company was slapped with a paltry financial penalty for hampering the Feds' 18-month-long investigation.

In a missive to the FCC, Google reportedly told the watchdog:

"The fact that the engineer was legally unavailable did not leave any significant factual questions unanswered."

Google is not disputing the fine, however.

It reiterated that the anonymous engineer working at the Chocolate Factory had invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In other words, the unidentified coder was able to keep schtum.

Congressman Edward Markey has called on Capitol Hill to hold a hearing over Google's Street View.

"The FCC was correct to fine Google for this breach and to cite the company's recalcitrance in providing timely and comprehensive information in support of the Commission's investigation," he said in a statement that followed the penalty being slapped on Larry Page's company.

"However, I am concerned that more needs to be done to fully investigate the company's understanding of what happened when consumer data was collected without their knowledge or permission.

"This fine is a mere slap on the wrist for Google. Coupled with the company's recent changes to its privacy policy, it seems as if Google is making a U-turn in its commitment to protect consumer privacy as embodied in its settlement with the FTC [Federal Trade Commission]."

In Europe, the Street View data slurp snafu has been handled differently by regulators.

In August last year UK data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) reversed its decision about Google's Street View technology. It had been a different story in November 2010 when the ICO concluded that Mountain View had breached the Data Protection Act.

In a screeching U-turn, the body later audited the world's largest ad broker and said it was satisfied with Google's privacy procedure.

There has been much tougher action against Google's fleet of Street View vehicles elsewhere in Europe. Germany, for example, ordered Google to altogether withdraw its Street View fleet from the country.

As for the unmasked Street View engineer, it's relatively easy to find details – via Google search, naturally – about which names were associated with that project for Mountain View between 2007 and 2010. We'll spare them their blushes here, though. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.