Print 11 comment(s) - last by messele.. on Apr 23 at 1:22 PM

  (Source: The Globe and Mail)
Street View Wi-Fi data guffaw bytes Google in Germany

Google has been in hot water around the world for collecting Wi-Fi data using its Street View vehicles. In the United States, Google was in trouble with the FCC for allegedly knowingly using its Street view vehicles to capture data from users (via open Wi-Fi networks) as the Street View cars rolled past homes and businesses.

Google is also in trouble in Germany over illegally collecting Wi-Fi data using its Street View cars. Google has now been fined €145,000, working out to $189,230 by German regulators.

German regulators say that Google's vehicles captured data such as the contents of e-mails, passwords, photos, and chat protocols using its cars between 2008 and 2010.
Google continues to maintain that Street View project leaders never wanted the Wi-Fi data and neither looked at or used the data. Google says that it was an error that allowed the vehicles to collect Wi-Fi data at all.

While €145,000 sounds like a lot of money to most people, that is a pittance to a gigantic corporation such as Google. Hamburg data regulator Johannes Caspar said that fines for negligent data rule violations are limited to €150,000 under German law. He believes that this fine limit should be raised to deter future unlawful behavior.
German authorities dropped a related criminal case against Google last year.

Source: Bloomberg

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189,000 is a joke!
By ImmortalSamurai on 4/22/2013 10:22:31 AM , Rating: 5
The janitor who sweeps the floor at Google probably flew over there in his private jet and paid it out of his change purse.

RE: 189,000 is a joke!
By bug77 on 4/22/2013 10:26:34 AM , Rating: 2
You have to keep in mind that recording data that people are broadcasting unencrypted isn't a capital crime either. I'm not sure it's even illegal, we'll have to see the judge's motivation.

RE: 189,000 is a joke!
By ShieTar on 4/22/2013 10:40:09 AM , Rating: 2
It is illegal. Stealing a car does not become legal either if you find one with open doors and the key inside.

You will share responsibility if you are negligent in protective measures, but the theft/espionage/stalking still remains a crime.

The reason for the low fine is the fact that the court did not identify a criminal purpose, but only a negligent violation. You can't very well fine any company to bankruptcy just because somebody had a bad day and implemented something unsafe by mistake.

RE: 189,000 is a joke!
By bug77 on 4/22/2013 1:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
I don't believe stealing physical items is equivalent to pirating software or data snooping, but I agree with the rest. And thanks for explaining the reasoning behind the fine.

RE: 189,000 is a joke!
By Solandri on 4/22/2013 5:43:17 PM , Rating: 2
It is not illegal to record other people's nearby conversations while you're driving down the street recording ambient traffic noise levels around the city. That's probably the closest analogy to this. If you're going to call this illegal, you've basically made it illegal for anyone to take a video or photo that has anyone else doing or saying anything in the background.

Your car analogy doesn't work because you have to deliberately go out of your way to steal the car. In this case, the public SSIDs and private (but unencrypted) data were inseparable and were both recorded automatically when they pressed the record button. Google had to deliberately go out of its way to scrub data which might have been considered private.

If you want a car analogy that works, it'd be more like a car park where you're free to borrow and use any car with the park's logo. Google borrowed one, but it turned out someone thought it was a parking lot and parked his private car in there, and left the keys in and forgot to lock it. Shame on Google for forgetting to check for the logo, but most of the fault lies with the car owner for leaving his private property out there in a place and in a state where it could easily be mistaken for a public use car and taken.

RE: 189,000 is a joke!
By ShieTar on 4/23/2013 3:55:55 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the closest analogy would be to pass an open window and record the conversation of the people inside the house. That is indeed illegal, according to §§ 201 of the German criminal law. Also the recording of electronic messages, no matter if they are encrypted or not, is illegal according to §§89 of the German telecommunications law. It has been for decades, even when the analogue information traveling phone-lines was never encrypted by anybody. The option to encrypt has not changed anything about the intent and applicability of the law.

My analogy was not to argue if the recording was unlawful, because that was not even questioned by the original poster. My analogy was explaining that an illegal activity was not becoming legal due to the victims negligence to self-protect, and for that purpose the analogy worked perfectly.

RE: 189,000 is a joke!
By messele on 4/23/2013 1:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed but don't let logical, well reasoned points get in the way of zealots who would defend Google even if they got caught raping their own Grandmother.

Utter joke.

its makes android OS
By xti on 4/22/2013 10:08:10 AM , Rating: 2
get out of jail for life card.

RE: its makes android OS
By Solandri on 4/22/2013 5:55:40 PM , Rating: 2
IIRC the history behind this, it all started with the EU asking Google to make sure they weren't recording more than they needed. Google audited its records and found that they had recorded more than they needed. Rather than quietly delete the extra data and feign innocence, they turned themselves in to the EU saying "you were right, we goofed."

So the small fine isn't because they have a get out of jail card. It's because they've been completely cooperative and honest with the EU about this. Really, I'd actually prefer it if more companies behaved like Google did here. e.g. When Apple did the same thing (built up a geographical map of wifi networks), it did so by pulling data off of iPhones without really informing the owners of what they were doing. And they still haven't admitted that that was the real purpose behind the whole thing.

By messele on 4/23/2013 1:20:49 PM , Rating: 2
Really, I'd actually prefer it if more companies behaved like Google did here.

Absolutely, especially the bit where they were ordered to delete all the data they collected while wardriving, which they promised they had only to be busted because, in fact, actually they hadn't but they lied about it.

Which makes the claim that it was a lone programmer acting without authority all the more contemptible. Yes, because THAT is the reason that Wi-Fi slurping equipment was installed in the cars when their internal computers were in fact wired this Wi-Fi equipment was unnecessary for any legitimate purpose.

By half_duplex on 4/22/2013 5:14:04 PM , Rating: 2
drive by Scroogling

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