This is gonna get ugly.
The FCC decided to “Fine” Google for not answering its questions about their WiFi “snooping” while taking pictures of our houses.
Google refused to answer the FCC’s questions. The FCC has no legal authority in the matter. The FCC regulates the transmission of radio signals, not the reception. Google was recording non-encrypted publicly available radio signals.
The FCC is not technically even part of the Federal government – it is a “Commission” empowered by laws to handle communications issues free from the constraints of things like laws, replacing them with regulations – but it has no powers beyond those given to it by Congress via the 1934 act and subsequent amendments.
Google owns no radio stations, not TV stations, they don’t broadcast anything to anyone. They’re not in the Telephone or Telegraph Business.
The problem the FCC has with its rules is it has no legal ability to enforce them. They are not a police agency, they can’t subpoena people, they can’t hold trials. The most they can do is impose a “voluntary contribution to the US Treasury” on someone who violates their rules. If that “voluntary contribution” is not made, the FCC revokes your license. But if you have no license (like a pirate radio station), they have nothing to revoke. A few states have passed state laws that allow the FCC to ask the state to force collection of their “voluntary contribution”, but that’s the exception to the rule.
What Google does own is they have plans to go into the broadband Wifi business, initially out near their headquarters, but possibly nationwide. They also own the rights to the andrioid operating system. While the FCC has something to say about the telephone part of a smart phone, they have no jurisdiction on the software running on the phone (yet).
So it’s showdown time, and Google is ready to fight.