April 16, 2012- The Federal Communications Commission fined Google $25,000 for collecting data from WiFi networks that were not encrypted. The act was determined to not be illegal nevertheless; the FCC fined the search giant for impeding investigators.
In 2010, Google admitted it was collecting payload data via its Street View cars. What that means is Google Cars were gathering personal information of people that was sent unprotected via WiFi hotspots. Following over one year of investigating, the FCC came to the decision that no laws were violated by Google, but still gave it a fine of $25,000 due to impeding the agency’s investigation.
Sources close to the situation said Google was not reachable by the agency and refused to give names to the FCC to identify anyone involved. Because of that, the FCC fined the company for not cooperating, which is in violation of the 1934 Communication Act.
The fine is a drop in the bucket for the internet giant that earned over $2.89 billion in net income in the first quarter of 2012. Because the WiFi hotspots did not have passwords that were implemented by their own networks, the FCC said it could not find Google at fault for gathering the unencrypted information.
Google said they were not going to use any of the data that included instant messages, emails, web addresses and other information that identified users. Once the FCC gave its okay, Google said it would eliminate the data.