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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Why The FCC Fined Google Just 68 Seconds In Profits

by Justin Elliott, ProPublica

The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday it is slapping a fine on Google for deliberately impeding an investigation into the collection of sensitive wireless network data as part of the search giant’s Street View mapping project. The amount of the fine: $25,000.

That figure is, of course, barely a rounding error for the company. Google made $2.89 billion last quarter, or $25,000 in profits every 68 seconds.

Nevertheless, the FCC Enforcement Bureau report announcing the fine says that the $25,000 level is designed “to deter future misconduct in view of Google’s ability to pay.”

The FCC found that Google Street View cars — which were taking pictures for Google Maps — also collected passwords, emails, and medical records, among other data from residents’ WiFi networks. Google has apologized for collecting the data but maintains it was legal.

The report states that the FCC actually ramped up the fine. The base fine for the violations was $12,000.

The report notes that the Commission has elected to increase fines “[t]o ensure that a proposed forfeiture is not treated as simply a cost of doing business.”

In the section discussing the size of the fine, a footnote points to Google’s vast revenues:

The FCC could have levied a larger fine, but it still wouldn’t have amounted to much for Google. As the report says, the maximum by allowed by law for stonewalling the FCC’s investigation as Google did is $112,500 per violation.

The report counts three violations by Google: “failures to identify employees, produce e-mails, and provide compliant declarations.” So the total fine could have been $337,500, or about 15 minutes of profits.

The report said the FCC decided on a fine of just $25,000 based on “the totality of the circumstances of this case” and “our precedent in other failure to respond cases.”

An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment to us on how the fine was calculated or how it would serve as a deterrent.

The company, for its part, disputed the FCC’s findings in a statement: “We disagree with the FCC’s characterization of our cooperation in their investigation and will be filing a response.”

Google will have recouped the fine in less than the time it took you to read this.



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4 responses to “Why The FCC Fined Google Just 68 Seconds In Profits”

  1. frankblvdr says:

    What fine, “petty cash”?

  2. ObozoMustGo says:

    Not to worry, Google is a bastion of leftists anyway. The real fine is not what they pay the FCC… it’s the millions they will donate to Barack Hussein Obozo’s re-election campaign. One way or another, this is how Chicago thug politics is played, and they always get paid. Just like the mob!

    Have a nice day!

  3. pogo_patti says:

    They spend more than that on breakfast each year! What a waist of time for both our government and our people’s money!

  4. Clarpark24 says:

    Fine my ass. Why isn’t someone from Google – or several someones – facing multimillion dollar fines and twenty years in prison? Phishing financial records is a felony. Violating HIPAA laws is too. “Google” – contrary to the belief of SCOTUS conservatives and other tinfoil hat wearers – isn’t a person. Executives at Google made the decision to commit this crime and people further down the food chain carried it out.

    Our prisons are full of recreational drug users and our corporate boardrooms are full of sociopathic felons. When the hell is the DoJ and SEC going to get serious about enforcing laws?

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