Google Stares at $25,000 Fine for Impeding Street View Privacy Probe

Paul Lilly

Google's market capital is over $200 billion, and shares of the search giant sell for about $625 a pop. Why is this relevant? Well, let's just say that a $25,000 fine wouldn't exactly be painful to Google. In fact, it would barely register as a prick, yet it's the amount the Federal Trade Commission is seeking after accusing the sultan of search of acting like one, or more specifically, for 'impeding' an investigation into how it collects personal and private data, including emails and text messages, through its Street View service.

The FCC filed a 25-page report on Friday in which it said Google "willfully and repeatedly violated commission orders" while the probe was going on.

"For many months, Google deliberately impeded and delayed the bureau's investigation by failing to respond to requests for material information and to provide certifications and verifications of its responses," the report said.

It's the latest in what's becoming a long line of privacy complaints against Google. According to Bloomberg , just last year the search giant agreed to two decades of independent privacy audits to settle a suit by the FCC over its privacy policy violations related to its Buzz social network.

For this go-round, Google admits to handling things poorly, but says it never ran afoul of the law.

"It was a mistake for us to include code in our software that collected payload data, but we believe we did nothing illegal," Google told Bloomberg in an email. "We have worked with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns."

As far as the FCC is concerned, Google acted like a jerk during the probe by delaying its search for emails and for refusing to identify the employees involved. However, rather than push for action against Google's Street View service, the FCC will seek a $25,000 fine, the maximum allowable for not cooperating with an investigation.

Image Credit: Flickr (sanchom)

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