At least where one controversy and a single group of U.S. regulators is concerned, Google is off the hook. Today, the Federal Trade Commission weighed in on the company’s collection of sensitive data sent over WiFi networks, and the organization announced that it would drop its inquiry.
David Vladeck, head of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, conveyed this fact in an open letter to Albert Gidari, a lawyer representing Google. Vladeck took his time to get to the point, too, perhaps making Gidari and Google sweat by going over the history of the case and his concern that the problem occurred in the first place.
Still, in the second-to-last paragraph of the two-page document, Vladeck wrote, "[W]e note that Google has recently announced improvements to its internal processes to address some of the concerns raised above . . . . Further, Google has made assurances to the FTC that the company has not used and will not use any of the payload data collected in any Google product or service, now or in the future. This assurance is critical to mitigate the potential harm to consumers from the collection of payload data."
Then he summed up, "Because of these commitments, we are ending our inquiry into this matter at this time."
Some people are sure to applaud this decision. Others are not (Consumer Watchdog has already issued a press release exhibiting predictable outrage, for example).
Google’s apologized for the data collection incident many times, in any event, and a number of other countries’ privacy authorities are still pursuing the matter.