German officials finally find a crack in Google’s armour and get an admission that they have been collecting private data from unprotected wireless connections since 2006.
The breach was perpetrated using a fleet of camera equipped Vehicles designed to collect data for Google Maps-Street View . In addition to recording wireless locations world wide they were also harvesting what Google calls “snippets of activity on WiFi networks”.
“We didn’t want to collect this data in the first place” said Google spokesperson Peter Barron. Google adds further insult by insisting it was “all a big mistake”. I find this explanation just a little hard to swallow, especially since the admission is the direct result of, and due solely to, the persistence of The German Data Protection Authority.
Reading Google’s Blog, it’s obvious that damage repair is in high gear. Be sure to read the whole thing as its tone is set with perfection. Peter Schaar, the German commissioner of data protection, describes Google’s “Accidental Data Colletion” excuse as “highly unusual”.
“One of the largest companies in the world, the market leader on the internet, simply disobeyed normal rules in the development and usage of software,” he said.
The US, which was previously absent in these developments, is now expected to launch its own probe through the US Federal Trade Commission. Marc Rotenberg, leader of the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Centre in Washington, calls this one of the most massive private surveillance incidents ever .
“It is unprecedented vacuuming of WiFi data by a private company. Can you imagine what would happen if a German corporation was sending cars through Washington sucking up all this information?”
That’s a good question Marc but apparently questioning a corporation known for “data collection” never occured to us.
Below is an excerpt and link to the previous TechTalk article.
Google Records Wireless Connections WorldWide
The initial resistance to Street Views was quickly dropped by German officials after Google agreed to use pixilation to hide license plates, faces, and house numbers. Google also allowed citizens the right to completely remove their property from photo archives. The option was fully embraced by hundreds of concerned German citizens and as a result of Google’s efforts, the service should be activated in Germany by the end of 2010.
Short story, no problem right? Wrong! Later German regulators expressed more resistance when they learned that Google was also recording the location of wireless routers for W.L.A.N.’s in homes and businesses. All of these routers broadcast a unique ID number or MAC address. Google was asked to end the practice by Germany’s Data Protection Administrator, Peter Schaar.
You can read the complete article here
I’m dying to hear your opinion on this. Everyday we are bombarded with Identity Theft, Worms, Trojans, and threats we have yet to imagine. It’s just sad to think that Google is another of the many money making machines blind siding us on a daily basis. I sincerely hope further probing results in some return of our rights and maybe even a renewed effort to preserve them. It looks like we could take some cues from our German friends.
Voice your opinions and comments here.