EPIC files FOIA request seeking full FCC report on Google

EPIC files FOIA request seeking full FCC report on Google

Summary: The Electronic Privacy Information Center wants to see the full, unedited report the Federal Communications Commission published on its investigation of Google and possible violations of wiretap laws.


Not happy with the redacted version of the FCC's report on its Google Street View investigation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center Thursday filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to see the full 25-page document.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission's FOIA officer, EPIC said it seeks the unredacted report on Google's actions during the FCC investigation of possible violations of wiretapping laws. The FCC report was published last week. EPIC is also asking for any related documents.

"We were all very surprised by the FCC report," said Marc Rotenberg, EPIC's executive director. "The FOIA request may help get to the bottom of the story."

EPIC also has asked that processing of the FOIA request be expedited.

The group wasn't the only one surprised by the report. U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and former chairman of the Communications, Technology and Internet Subcommittee, has called the fine a "slap on the wrist."

Numerous outlets have reported that Google needs just 68 seconds to earn enough profit to cover the fine.

In the report, the FCC proposed the $25,000 fine on Google for impeding its investigation related to Google's street mapping service and the collection of personal data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.

The FCC did not find that the company violated wiretapping laws. That finding is in contrast to a federal judge's ruling last year that Google could be held liable for violating the federal laws.

Google has admitted that between 2008-2010 it collected names, addresses, telephone numbers, URL's, passwords, e-mail, text messages, medical records, video and audio files, and other information from open Wi-Fi hotspots. Google characterized the collection as a "mistake."

In the report, the FCC says "for many months, Google deliberately impeded and delayed the Bureau's investigation." The FCC report says that action compromised the agency's investigation as it was unable to collect enough evidence to judge whether Google was in violation of the federal Wiretap Act.

The details of Google's behavior and the FCC's investigation were redacted in the report and EPIC says that raises questions about the scope of the FCC's investigation.

Two days ago, EPIC sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking the Department of Justice to investigate Google's collection of Wi-Fi data. EPIC said the real issue is the FCC's disclosure that its investigation was inadequate. EPIC said the FCC report did not address Google's actions in relation to the wiretap charges.

Topics: Google, Government, Government US


John Fontana is a journalist focusing on authentication, identity, privacy and security issues. Currently, he is the Identity Evangelist for strong authentication vendor Yubico, where he also blogs about industry issues and standards work, including the FIDO Alliance.

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  • EPIC should stop instigating

    the the government against job creators.
    The Linux Geek
    • Google isn't perfect anymore

      They may not be as bad as Microsoft anytime soon, but they've made a few high profile mistakes recently. Collecting wifi passwords? Why?
      • GoOgle

        Oh man, GoOgle has surpassed Microsoft in the "evil" department years ago. And to answer your question, they were collecting WIFI passwords to be able to freely surf the computers of all these people. They can collect information of your entire life and use this for marketing like targeted advertising. Remember, they own DoubleClick, which adds tracking cookies to your computer to see what you're looking at on the internet.....
    • Creators

      Seriously? So you actually think that the government should just let GoOgle continue to spy on people and hack into their communications at will? And on top of all this, you think EPIC, which is a fine institution that seeks to protect the populace against such intrusions? Are you pro-communism by any chance?