Print 25 comment(s) - last by CZroe.. on Jun 14 at 9:15 PM

Google still says recording was an accident

Google has found itself mired in legal proceedings and bad press after it was forced to admit in mid-May that its Street View vehicles had accidentally recorded "payload data" from open wireless networks. Google admits that it was recording SSID and MAC addresses on secure networks, but maintains it was not aware that the payload data from open networks was being captured until a Germany regulatory authority asked to audit Wi-Fi data collection procedures.

Google has stated that it is now providing European regulators with the data it collected. Previously, Google had stated that it was reviewing how to hand over the data in Germany without violating any German laws. Google is also facing an informal inquiry in the U.S. by the FTC. Canada announced this week that it would launch an official investigation into the data collection. There are also several suits pending against Google in the U.S. by individuals who allege their unsecured network data was captured by Google.

The judge in one of the suits filed in Portland has already requested that Google turn over hard drives containing the data. Those hard drives are expected to be held for perusal if the evidence becomes relevant in the Portland suit.

Turning private network data over to governments and courts is something that privacy advocates generally resist. However, the Center for Digital Democracy is glad to see Google do this. Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy told the Wall Street Journal that this is an "honesty litmus test" for Google. He continued saying, "I have all kinds of reservations and concerns about having government forcing companies to turn over information. But in this case, this is the right thing to do."

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RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Aloonatic on 6/4/2010 3:46:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it is.

Will you all please stop this nonsense of saying that it's OK for anyone to come along and pro-actively do what they want.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By boobo on 6/4/2010 4:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
Well, it may be legally, ethically or morally private, but it's not really private because, unless it's secured, it's flying freely in the air outside of your property for anyone to see.

What you do in your house is private but if you have no walls, people will not be able to help but see what you're doing.

That said, Google has officially stated that this was the work of a rouge programmer who inserted a line of code against company policy and is currently under investigation.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Aloonatic on 6/5/2010 5:16:26 AM , Rating: 3
Your no walls thing, is not quite right. Google sent a car out to take photos, and it had special equipment installed to gather this data too, for what reason? So it would more be like people walking passed your house with x-ray specs on, looking at your home and "accidentally" seeing what is going on inside, if you haven't activated the lead lining to our walls.

They went out of their way to "accidentally" gather this data. Why was there even a need for this equpiment to be on the car anyway?

Again, as posted elsewhere, I'm not saying that people are not stupid to have left their network unprotected, but Google still had no reason to be doing this, or even checking which networks were secured and logging it down.

It would be like them driving around, checking every front door to see if it is locked, and making a note of which homes were locked, the type of lock used, and then opening the doors to those that are not locked and having a quick peek inside. A list of information that would be useful to whom? And how is copying this data ad spreading it around helping anyone.

So to reiterate... That someone does something silly like leaving their network unprotected does not mean that they are fair game to be exploited, and that what Google have "accidentally" done, or a "rogue" employee has done, is OK. However, as usual, this seems to be the attitude of many know-it-all DTers.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By CZroe on 6/5/2010 5:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
You honestly can't see the value in having a map of worldwide WiFi networks? My, you are short-sighted. If you already have a car tasked with taking equipment up and down every street you possibly can, wouldn't you want it to be doing as much as it possibly could to justify the effort? THINK!

Also, you know that X-ray specs are a trick, right? ;) They don't "reveal" anything.

Your analogy is the incorrect one. The payload data is not actively snooped just because it's there. They got what they passed which is largely, if not 100% innocuous. They didn't stand in one spot and monitor it. The chances of getting anything useful on a quick drive-by are insanely small. It's more like taking a picture of your family on the sidewalk and getting someone else's face, address, or license plate in the shot except that those things would only be available for momentary little blips that would have to happen to coincide with the camera's shutter and, even then, can't be used for much.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Aloonatic on 6/8/2010 3:26:52 AM , Rating: 2
Think, is indeed what I was trying to get the person that I was responding to, to do. Obviously this data is valuable. That is why Google kitted out their street-view car wit the equipment necessary to gather this information. It was not an accident, and I very much doubt that it was the action of a "rogue programmer" either. They didn't just stumble upon this data, like someone glancing over into someone's home. They went out of their way to gather it and record it, for a purpose that is potentially not entirely innocent either.

Also, of course I know that x-ray specs are not real. I was simply trying to make the point that Google still had to go out o their way to equip and program their street-view car to do this. Unlike a home having "no walls" which anyone could look into you actually need to bother to try to see someone's data. They actively went out to do this.

There is a difference between what you say in your final paragraph and what has happened here. You are falling fowl of mistaking what is common knowledge and what you know. People are aware of what they are doing when they walk the streets and drive their car. They do that knowing fully what they are letting themselves in for, what risks they are taking etc. Not locking down their network, they might think that all they are really letting themselves in for is their neighbour being able to use their internet connection. I doubt that they (or even know-it-all you and every other know-it-all DTer) ever thought that a multinational company would be driving a car around collecting whatever data they could hoover up.

If anything, maybe this will be the story that finally makes everyone in the general public open their eyes and take this seriously and realise that they need ot be a lot more careful and security concious than they are now. The days of being able to leave your door unlocked ended a long time ago, the same goes for networks, but it takes a while for people to catch on, but it still doesn't make it ok for a company to intrude like this, as it is still wrong for you to enter someone's home without permission even if they have left hte front door wide open.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By CZroe on 6/14/2010 9:15:54 PM , Rating: 2
Once again, the wireless equipment was fitted for mapping the SSIDs and topography of the nation's WiFi offerings and other valuable data, which is not the same as the "payload" data (nothing sensitive about it), so stop saying that they had to install the equipment that captured the payload data specifically to capture the payload data. It's just not true. That's like saying that the camera I used to take a picture of my family was intended to take a picture of the people behind and around them and anything private that they may not want captured. It wasn't. Due to the unreliable nature of the poor signals they'd be encountering, they were probably storing raw data to process later for directionality and other determinations. In such a "promicsuous" mode, it's easy for a rogue setting or property to cause quite a bit more data to be captured than intended.

Shows what you know.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Lazarus Dark on 6/4/2010 9:43:17 PM , Rating: 2
They weren't proactively gathering data, they were passively gathering data. Whether they realized it or not, anyone that had data collected in this manner gave that data willingly and freely. Google had an open hand and they poured the data into it.

US courts ruled years ago when the tv stations complained about vcr's that if you broadcast freely to the world, you can't complain if someone records that broadcast, you gave them permission by broadcasting freely. Same with an unsecured wifi. The only way google could do any wrong is if they hacked your secured wifi or directly requested info from your router (which would require communicating with your router which would be considered stealing bandwidth). otherwise, they have every right to collect any data you broadcast openly. If your wifi is secured with encryption, they could be liable if they broke that encryption to look at your data, but google has done nothing of the sort here.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Aloonatic on 6/5/2010 4:59:30 AM , Rating: 2
They were driving around gathering data, which seems pretty pro-active to me. Maybe it's something that you see happening all the time, and everyone does it where you live, but I don't.

If I was driving past Goggle towers, transmitting my data recklessly, then you might have an argument. However, they went out onto the streets, with a car designed to do this and "oh no, we've accidentally gathered lots of data, how did that happen?".

I'm not saying that people haven't been stupid to not secure their networks, but still, it doesn't make it OK for Google to have done this.

That people do stupid things, does not make it OK for others more clued-in to exploit them, in whatever field you are talking about. I'm sure that there are things that you know next to nothing about and expect legal and government protection, yet others might think that your mistakes or ignorance are stupid and you ask for all that you get.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By LRonaldHubbs on 6/5/2010 10:38:22 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying that people haven't been stupid to not secure their networks, but still, it doesn't make it OK for Google to have done this.

Yes it does.

I'm sure that there are things that you know next to nothing about and expect legal and government protection, yet others might think that your mistakes or ignorance are stupid and you ask for all that you get.

There's a difference between getting screwed by the mechanic or the doctor's office and having your wireless network snooped on, because those first two are things that most people cannot just jump into and understand for themselves.

When you buy a wireless router, there are warnings all over the packaging about the importance of securing your network, and usually a giant sticker over the ports that says to run the setup CD. The CD then goes through the setup process step-by-step and does all the work for you. Anyone who didn't know how to do things manually but didn't follow the setup CD is either completely stupid or completely lazy (or both). In either case they deserve to have their data recorded. Negligence does not entitle one to government protection.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Aloonatic on 6/8/2010 3:35:56 AM , Rating: 2
So if you negligently forgot to lock your front door, you would have no problem with me being able to come in and take what I wanted? Or your (legal age) daughter or wife negligently forgot to close the curtains when they got out of the shower, you would have no problem with me taking a few happy snaps?

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By LRonaldHubbs on 6/10/2010 3:28:13 PM , Rating: 2
Your analogies are downright stupid because they constitute violations of other laws. They also have nothing to do with your previous line of argument which I was rebutting. An analogy that actually makes sense would be paparazzi photographing celebrities in public places. Is it invasive and annoying? Yes. Is it illegal? No.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Aloonatic on 6/10/2010 5:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
MY analogy was meant, as I have already explained to point out that Google went out of their way to do this, with forethought, as compared to anyone just being able to stumble upon this information with what they travel around with every day, as with the transparent walls analogy. It's quite simple and obvious that that is what I was referring too.

You know full well that my last comment blew you clean out of the water tho, Always funny to get someone on here to have to resort to name calling :) You realise that laws are there to protect people from wrong doing when they make mistakes and neglect to do things that may be obvious.

Your analogies are downright stupid because they constitute violations of other laws
You do know that it is illegal for you to roll up to my home and try to connect to my network and use it? Also, why are they illegal? Because it's wrong to do these things, and they are somewhat analogous to this situation too, and all that I have ever said is that what Google did is wrong. I've never said that they have broken any specific law, just that people pretending that it's OK for Google to abuse people like this is fine because they are stupid or lacking in knowledge. Anyway,you somewhat backing up my point really, so thanks.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Aloonatic on 6/11/2010 2:28:57 AM , Rating: 2
I may have been getting 2 threads mixed up there, however...

Basically, all I have ever argued is that Google are not absolved of any wrong doing simply because people did not lock down their networks, which is what it seems that many here are and have been saying. In case there has been any confusion, that is what my analogies were about.

I have no idea what your pap/celeb analogy has to do with anything. If you cannot see what I am getting at comparing Google coming along and snooping on your unlocked or unhidden network not being OK because you have left it open, just as we accept that someone coming along and doing the same I you leave your curtains or front door open, then I don't know what to tell you to be honest.

Do I have much sympathy for anyone who has fallen fowl of this and had their privacy invaded? No, not really. Just as I would not have much sympathy for someone who had every single possession that they owned stolen if they left their front door wide open, but I would not absolve the burglar of all guilt either.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By ekv on 6/5/2010 5:18:33 AM , Rating: 2
Two questions.

Didn't Google tell the NSA or FBI to go-fly-a-kite not too long ago, when they requested certain data? Could it be Google ought to have told Europe to go-fly-a-kite as well?

Just curious.

RE: Stop spreading my data!
By Lazarus Dark on 6/7/2010 7:25:36 PM , Rating: 2
Well, those US government departments were requesting personal data about thier customers. This data was not from thier customers. Additionally these snipits of data were freely broadcast and not the property of Google or its customers. Third... I really don't know why they continued to propigate this wifi data. They should have deleted it and moved on. You can't tell me this data happen to all exist on one or several drives, it was likely strewn across the google servers, so they made more copies to give the EU. I don't understand this part myself, it should have just been deleted. I am more suspicious as to why the EU wants this information. What are they doing with it and why?

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