Google Inc. has been fined approximately £15,000 for impeding investigations by US authorities into data collection activities for its Street View Project, according to Reuters.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed the fine late on Friday and, according to the contents of the order, stated the company had collected personal information without permission and, in addition, had not cooperated with the FCC's investigations.
"Google refuses to identify any employees or produce any e-mails. The company could not supply complaint declarations without identifying employees it preferred not to identify. Misconduct of this nature threatens to compromise the commission's ability to effectively investigate possible violations of the Communications Act and the commission's rule," stated an FCC order dated 13 April.
Google, in turn, said it had turned over information to the agency and challenged the finding that states it was uncooperative.
"As the FCC noted in their report, we provided all the materials the regulators felt they needed to conclude their investigation and we were not found to have violated any laws. We disagree with the FCC's characterisation of our cooperation in their investigation and will be filing a response," said Google in a statement.
Google, between May 2007 and 2010, collected data from Wi-Fi networks across the US and even across the world as a part of its Street View Project. The project provides Google Map and Google Earth users the ability to view street-level images of structures and land adjacent to roads and highways. According to the FCC, during the data collection, Google reportedly collected passwords, Internet usage history and other personal data which was not required for the project.
The investigation into data collection raises questions over the rights to privacy. In a recent statewide poll, a majority of Californians stated they were worried about data collection by smartphones and Internet companies. Most people even said they distrusted firms who had tens of millions of users, like Facebook, reported The Los Angeles Times.
Two years ago, the Federal Trade Commission was conducting an investigation into Google's Street View project announced the agency was satisfied with Google's explanation about its data collection practices and would not impose any fines.