Group expects ruling on Google report in a few weeks

It will be at least a few weeks before the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) finds out if the FCC wants to provide an unedited copy of its report in the Google's Street View investigation.
Written by John Fontana, Contributor

The Electronic Privacy Information Center expects to hear next month whether the FCC will provide a full, unedited report into whether Google violated any wiretapping laws in collecting data as part of its Street View program.

EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to see the unredacted Federal Communications Commission report on Google's actions during the FCC's investigation of the search giant. The FCC report was published nearly two weeks ago. EPIC is also asking to see any related documents.

Ginger McCall, director of EPIC's  open government program and Internet public interest opportunities program, said EPIC was told by the FCC that it anticipates responding to the FOIA request by May 17.  EPIC said last week that it would go as far as considering litigation to get access to the full report.

EPIC says the redacted report was a surprise and hopes the full report can help get to the bottom of the story. The story is that the FCC did not find that the company violated wiretapping laws but fined the company $25,000 for impeding its investigation.  The FCC's conclusions are in contrast to a federal judge's ruling last year that Google could be held liable for violating federal wiretapping laws.

Google got in hot water for collecting personal data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks during it Street View work. The company 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 report says that action compromised the FCC's investigation as it was unable to collect enough evidence to judge whether Google was in violation of the federal Wiretap Act.

EPIC also has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking the Department of Justice to investigate Google's collection of Wi-Fi data given that the FCC admitted its investigation was inadequate.

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