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.
- Schmidt’s Solution to Street View Privacy Concerns? ‘Just Move’ (searchenginewatch.com)
- Will Google Street View encourage better Wi-Fi security? (sophos.com)
- Google Admits Accidentally Intercepting Users’ Private Data With Street View Cars (crunchgear.com)
- ICO reopens Google Street View privacy probe (go.theregister.com)
- Google on course for a pasting from MPs over privacy breaches | Nicholas Watt (guardian.co.uk)
- Schmidt: I ‘misspoke’ over Street View (go.theregister.com)
- Italy slaps restrictions on Google’s Street View (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Germans want their homes unrecognizable on Google Street View (techvibes.com)
- Google Street View Cars Collected Emails and Passwords [Google] (gizmodo.com)
- Regulators closing in on Google | Siobhain Butterworth (guardian.co.uk)
- Google faces landmark fine in Britain for ‘gross invasion of privacy’ (downloadsquad.com)
- Google Street View data breach: A guide (telegraph.co.uk)
- Schmidt’s “Just Move” Joke About Google Street View & How It Went Missing (Danny Sullivan/Search Engine Land) (techmeme.com)
- Google Street View also copied people’s emails, passwords (topinews.com)
- Wary of Google Street View? Move, CEO Schmidt says (marketwatch.com)