- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Google to $22.5M fine for latest privacy breakdown
The FTC didn’t take action against Google for scooping up the Wi-Fi data, although the Federal Communications Commission fined the company $25,000 earlier this year for impeding its investigation into the matter.
As it did with the secret tracking on Safari, Google has framed those privacy breaches as inadvertent slips.
“In some ways, as a regulator, it’s hard to know which answer is worst: `I didn’t know’ or `I did it deliberately.’ Both are bad,” Vladeck told reporters on a Thursday conference call.
“It’s a big company,” Vladeck said. “It’s grown very quickly, but the social contract is if you are going to hold on to people’s most private data, you have got to do a better job of honoring your privacy commitment.”
Those terse remarks underscore Google’s increasingly tense relationship with regulators around the world. Both the FTC and the European Commission are engaged in broad antitrust investigations of Google. The company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., has submitted a list of concessions in an attempt to settle Europe’s probe, while the FTC’s inquiry remains open.
Although the $22.5 million fine is a record for the FTC, it won’t leave much of a financial dent at Google. The company had $43 billion in cash at the end of June and generates $22.5 million in revenue roughly every four hours.
“This record fine will send a signal to a lot of Internet companies, but there’s still some question whether the FTC has the authority and resources to rein in an entity as big and powerful as Google,” said Carl Tobias, a Richmond University law professor who followed the Safari case.
Bad publicity may be the bigger blow for Google, which takes so much pride in its scruples that it has adopted “Don’t Be Evil” as its corporate motto.
“This has to sting. They don’t want to lose too much goodwill,” said Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy for the Center for Democracy & Technology.
The FTC’s willingness to settle with Google without an admission of wrongdoing troubled one of the agency’s own commissioners, J. Thomas Rosch. He voted against the settlement because he didn’t believe the agreement was in the public interest without Google admitting liability.
But the FTC’s four other commissioners voted in favor of the settlement.
“We don’t get anything out of an admission other than a good headline,” Vladeck said. “It is not of any practical value to us.”
The fine surpasses a nearly $19 million penalty that the FTC slapped in 2010 on a telemarketer accused of duping people into believing they were donating to charities.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- ICT trade mission to Azerbaijan successfully completed
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- JACOBS: Prepare for a fight on driverless vehicles
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Inside China: Ukraine gets nuke umbrella
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow