The first, from law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, reports on a recent FCC notice on the matter. Good and bad news from the company (mostly good):
“In a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) released Monday by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against Google, the FCC found that Google’s collection of unencrypted data obtained from Wi-Fi networks in its Street View project did not violate the Communications Act provision that prohibits the unauthorized interception and either use or publication of radio communications. However, the FCC has proposed a $25,000 forfeiture penalty for Google’s initial failure to cooperate with the agency’s investigation of this matter…”
When you make $10B a quarter, what’s a $25k fine for dragging your feet?
More on the story from Davis Wright Tremaine (bold ours):
“Google’s Street View project uses cameras on cars to capture 360 degree images of structures and land bordering roads and highways throughout the world, viewable by users of Google Maps and Google Earth. Between 2007 and 2010, the cars also employed equipment that captured Wi-Fi data which, when combined with global positioning system (GPS) information, can be used to map businesses or other landmarks near a user’s location. In 2010, in response to investigations conducted by various European authorities, Google admitted that its capture of Wi-Fi data included contents of email and text messages, passwords, Internet usage history and other personal information. At first, Google insisted the collected content or ‘payload data’ consisted of fragmented data only, but in October 2010, Google admitted that the payload data included entire emails, passwords and other information…”
The Electronic Privacy Information Center thinks the Department of Justice should open an investigation into this matter:
As EPIC noted ‘by the agency’s own admission, the investigation conducted was inadequate and did not address the applicability of federal wiretapping law to Google’s interception of emails, usernames, passwords, browsing histories, and other personal information.’ Members of Congress have expressed support for EPIC’s recommendation to the Justice Department. Senator Richard Blumenthal said that ‘Google’s interception and collection of private wireless data potentially violates the Wiretap Act or other federal statutes, and I believe the Justice Department and state attorneys general should fully investigate this matter.’ Congressman Ed Markey said that ‘[t]his fine is a mere slap on the wrist for Google,’ and called for a more comprehensive investigation. Many countries have found Google guilty of violating national privacy laws, and a US federal court recently held that unencrypted wireless network communications are not exempt from the protections of the Wiretap Act.
There you have it:
- FCC: Google’s Collection of Unencrypted Data Does Not Violate Communications Act (Davis Wright Tremaine)
- EPIC Urges Justice Department to Investigate Google for Unlawful Wiretapping (Electronic Privacy Information Center)
What’s your (street) view?