backtop


Print 79 comment(s) - last by Trisped.. on May 7 at 8:20 PM


  (Source: Inquisitr)
Google is watching you

Did senior level Google Inc. (GOOG) managers know of and condone one of their engineer's audacious schemes to "wardrive"  the United States and Europe, using the company's "Street View" cars?  That's what U.S. government officials at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission are accusing [Scribd].

I. Google Managers Pre-Approved Spying on the Public

The new allegations come as the latest public relations setback for Google and its emabattled "Street View" program.  The company, whose informal slogan is "Don't be evil", claims to follow an "explore first, worry about profit later" mentality.  

Street View is the perfect embodiment of the Google ethos -- or so it seemed.  Launched in 2007, the project sent cars wired with cameras and high-tech communications equipment out on the roads in an unprecedented bid to provide street-level views of every stretch of road in the developed world.

The project was supposed to be for the betterment of mankind, or something along those lines.  But Google's altruism has been called into question when it was revealed that it was using its wired Street View vehicles as warwagons to troll unsecured wireles connection connections.  Further, the Google cars were discovered to be intercepting unsecured email and SMS traffic, data mining peoples' private conversations.

Google Street View
Google merrily used its Street View cars to data mine open WiFi connections.  Now the company claims it was just an innocenent mistake, blaming an unnamed engineer.
[Image Source: Jacopast/Wikipedia]

Google cast this hidden capability as a "bug" in the Street View code, created by a misguided engineer.  But according to the FCC while Google appears to have broken no laws in spying on people on unsecured lines, emails between the engineer in charge of the program and two other employees -- including a senior manager -- indicate that the program was not a rogue effort. It was in fact on the radar of at least some members of Google's senior staff.

II. Google Let Off With a Slap on the Wrist

The FCC did dock Google $25K -- essentially a slap on the wrist for the multi-billion dollar tech firm -- for impeding its investigation.  But Google claims it has nothing to hide and is publishing the emails described by the FCC, with the engineers and manager's names redacted.

Google now admits that five of its engineers were involved in the effort, but it denies knowingly playing unwelcome house guest on home internet connections across North America and Europe.

Google wide
Google has made billions off of figuring out your online habits and providing targeted marketing. [Image Source: My Life Untethered]

The internet firm categorizes the snooping as "minimal" and says that the program was not even big enough to be reviewed by the company's legal staff.  The program was launched in Oct. 2006 by "Engineer Doe" and was pre-approved by at least one manager who devoted resources to the project.

Google's lawyers admit that the engineer who spearheaded the effort did examine personal web traffic to establish a list of most-visited websites for certain IPs, but it insists that the abuse was not pervasive.

The company promises to try extra hard to protect the public's privacy in the future.  It insists that the data mining plot was simply an innocent mistake.  A company spokesperson writes, "The record... shows that Google's supervision of the Wi-Fi data collection project was minimal ... indeed, it appears that no one at the company carefully reviewed the substance of Engineer Doe's software code or the design document."

Despite the U.S. letting off Google with just a warning, the Mountain View, Calif.-based software company is facing the prospect of stiffer fines in multiple other nations, including member states of the European Union.  The company is also facing private lawsuits over the unwanted surveillance.

Sources: Scribd [FCC/Google], The Guardian



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: so..
By messele on 5/1/2012 10:04:58 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about in the USA but in the UK if I were to access an open network (private, but open) and commit a crime it would be me who would be brought to task for it, not the person who owned the router.

Google knowingly equipped their vehicles with the technology to snoop on networks and for what good reason? There is a big difference between cataloguing and geo-locating SSIDs which is what they seem to be claiming and connecting to those networks, which they should not have done.

If they could have bypassed everybody's network security would people still be saying its ok? What is the difference between a burglar walking through an open door, climbing through a high open window and forcing entry (albeit not damaging property). They are all analogous to what is happening with Google in my opinion.


RE: so..
By tamalero on 5/1/2012 12:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If they could have bypassed everybody's network security would people still be saying its ok?


No, that is clearly illegal. Since you're willingly breaking the protection that is set to prevent and stop others from entering your networks.

Having no security in your networks is like having a huge parcel with no fences/walls/warning posts.. someone might want to set themselves there for a picnic.. if there is no fences.. no warnings no nothing keeping you out... who is to blame then? clearly not the pair doing a picnic!

quote:
I don't know about in the USA but in the UK if I were to access an open network (private, but open) and commit a crime it would be me who would be brought to task for it, not the person who owned the router.

Hu? I tough it was only when people willingly broke into your private connections to exploit? (aka breaking the sec code like WEP?)


"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki