WASHINGTON Google Inc faces a $25,000 fine for impeding a U.S. investigation into the Web search leader's data collection for its Street View project, which allows users to see street level images when they map a location.
The Federal Communications Commission said the company had collected personal information without permission, and cited evidence that Google had "deliberately" refused to cooperate with the agency.
"Google refused to identify any employees or produce any e-mails. The company could not supply compliant declarations without identifying employees it preferred not to identify," according to an FCC order dated April 13.
"Misconduct of this nature threatens to compromise the commission's ability to effectively investigate possible violations of the Communications Act and the commission's rules."
Google could not be reached for comment.
Between May 2007 and May 2010, Google collected data from wifi networks throughout the United States and throughout the world as part of the Street View project, which gives users of Google Map and Google Earth the ability to view street level images of structures and land adjacent to roads and highways.
However, Google collected passwords, Internet usage history and other highly sensitive personal data that was not needed for its location database project, the FCC said.
Google publicly acknowledged in May 2010 that it had collected the so-called payload data, leading to an FCC investigation on whether it had violated the Communications Act.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; editing by Richard Chang)