A Federal Communication Commission investigation pins Google’s controversial WiFi data collection on the actions of one engineer. According to the FCC report, a single engineer devised the plan to collect unprotected WiFi network data along with Street View data during sweeps of neighborhoods by Street View cars. This collected WiFi network data was linked to location information and used by Android smartphones to pinpoint a user’s location quickly using WiFi triangulation.
The engineer told co-workers and at least one manager in 2008 of his plans to collect wireless network information, but Google did not act on this information until 2010. This plan and Google’s subsequent response came to light after the release of the FCC report by Google. Google released the report after the FCC concluded Google didn’t violate a wiretapping law when it collected network data from open WiFi networks. Though it was cleared of wiretapping, Google was found guilty of obstructing the FCC’s probe and fined $25,000, according to a Los Angeles Times report.