Google sinks deeper in the mire of its own creation

Its a while since the fuss over Google’s Street View cars ‘stealing’ wifi details as it cruised by our houses first blew up. We may have forgotten about it but the lawyers haven’t and now Google has come clean. Finally, they have admitted to taking some emails, URLs and passwords during its Street View operation. How many precisely isn’t clear but it means Google is now facing further legal action and in all probability, a hefty fine. hefty by most folk’s measure but in this case it seems the maximum fine could be just £500,000. This is a tiny amount for a company as rich as Google. Admittedly, this is only in the UK but even so, it’s nothing.

The same can’t be said about the negative publicity that Google will receive and its not likely to be the end of the matter either, with other countries legislators looking to fine them too. Some commentators think Google has broken no laws so that no fine is possible. Privacy groups of course have a different view and are calling for Google to be heavily punished.

Whether you believe Google acted in a malicious and illegal manner or that it was an entirely unintentional and accidental error on their part is somewhat irrelevant. What’s important is that if Google can collect private data so easily ( a drive-by snatch ) then how easy can it be for a determined hacker? All this underlines the need for you to have decent security on your wireless network, so make sure you are using WPA2 (and not the easily hacked WEP) security on your network. Otherwise you are asking others to come and steal your private data, possibly your identity and your money sitting in your bank accounts too. You have been warned.

Othello Tech Systems

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Google’s woe over Wi-Fi snooping still not over!

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Seems Google is still not out of the woods yet as far as the Street View debacle. Spain is the latest country to launch an investigation into Google’s collection of wi-fi data whilst collecting imagery for its Street View feature on Google Maps. A Spanish judge has summoned a Google representative to appear before the court in Madrid before 4 October.

Apparently a privacy group called Apedanica complained to the court. The judge has asked for an explanation of what data was collected, how it was collected and how many people have had their data collected by Google in this fashion.

Google response has been muted, saying it is “working with the authorities in Spain to answer any questions they have,” and “our ultimate objective is to delete the data consistent with our legal obligations and in consultation with the appropriate authorities” according to their spokesperson.

Although the UK Information Commissioner (ICO) cleared Google on the grounds the data collected was not “significant”, Google is still under investigation in France and Germany as well as Australia. Despite the ICO clearing them, the Metropolitan Police are still investigating the matter. Whether Google will eventually be let off the hook remains to be seen but the whole affair has certainly tarnished its reputation as the company that ‘does no evil”.

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Google still in the doghouse over its sniffing of private unsecured wi-fi networks

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

It seems that the company that prides itself on ‘doing no evil’ is still in the doghouse over recent admissions that it ‘inadvertently’ gathered snippets of data from private unsecured wireless networks whilst gathering images for its Street View service on Google Maps.

Not only is there a move in the US for a Class Action in the courts against Google, but government officials around the world are demanding that Google lets them look at just what data it did collect.

In a funny twist, Google is claiming that if it did so it might be breaking data protection laws and so its not, as yet, handing over the data!

Whatever the final outcome of this, its perhaps just another example of how Google is no longer going to get an easy ride. Further evidence of this are moves to get US legislators to investigate Google under anti-competition laws in view of the virtual monopoly it has in online search.

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