Dumbest Moments in Business

The biggest blunders of 2012.

Google's massive and miniscule fines

dumbest moments google street view

Google's regulatory fines this year for its assorted screw-ups ranged from record-setting to comically tiny.

In the larger-than-life department, the Federal Trade Commission slapped Google with the biggest fine in FTC history -- $22.5 million -- for violating a prior privacy settlement.

Google acknowledged skirting the privacy settings on Apple's Safari browser, a move that let advertisers target users in unintended ways. It immediately disabled the technology when privacy researchers exposed it in February, but the actual consequences of Google's evasion were fairly trivial.

For a much more serious violation -- "willfully" stonewalling the Federal Communications Commission's investigation into personal information accidentally grabbed by Google's Street View cars -- the company was fined a measly $25,000.

Google admitted in late 2010 that it had "inadvertently" collected off-limits data, but it refused to cooperate when the FCC tried to dig further. It likely would have gotten more than just a wrist-slap, but the FCC lacks the authority to levy more stringent fines. -- David Goldman

- Last updated December 19 2012 05:01 PM ET

Partner Offers