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Google Settles For Collecting Junk Data From Wide Open Hotspots
Our Long, Dark National Nightmare is Over
by Karl Bode 12:53PM Wednesday Mar 13 2013
As earlier leaks had suggested, Google today confirmed that the company will pay a $7 million fine to settle a consolidated lawsuit brought against the company for their collection of data from unsecured hotspots. In 2010, Google was busted using their Google Street View cars to collect Wi-Fi data from areas they passed through. The company claimed that the effort was a rogue action of one employee running a test project, and the data collected was largely useless (confirmed by subsequent studies) given the collection vehicles flipped channels roughly five times each second.

Still, Google's acknowledged screw up has been fodder for everyone from politicians who want their names in lights, to regular joes who are terrified about privacy but have little to no understanding of how technology works. It has also been fodder for Google's corporate enemies, as this New York Times article makes clear. Times reporter David Streitfeld not only omits the fact the collected data was mostly junk, he also amusingly quotes Scott Cleland, a sockpuppet paid by AT&T and Microsoft to attack everything Google does, as a "consumer watchdog" concerned with Google's actions:
quote:
"Google puts innovation ahead of everything and resists asking permission," said Scott Cleland, a consultant for Google’s competitors and a consumer watchdog whose blog maintains a close watch on Google’s privacy issues. "But the states are throwing down a marker that they are watching and there is a line the company shouldn’t cross."
Cleland is as much of a consumer watchdog as I am a seventeen-year-old European supermodel named Gigi, and news outlets need to stop quoting the man as an objective analyst. He's a hired public relations flack who is told by his clients to primarily focus his ire on Google, and the result is someone who makes up a lot of nonsense, from claiming Google doesn't contribute to network infrastructure, to arguing Google Fiber is an awful thing because the U.S. broadband industry is already too gosh-darned competitive.

That's not to say Google doesn't need watching from real privacy advocates, especially as the company shifts from innovation to turf protection. But crying because a Google engineer nabbed garbled data from a hotspot you should have password protected is a bit melodramatic, especially with full context in the warrantless domestic surveillance age. Google did screw up, but the company was at least transparent about the fact they screwed up -- unlike a litany of other corporate citizens and governments busy hoovering up and selling any and all user data -- then lying about it or obscuring the practice.

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Gami00

join:2010-03-11
Mississauga, ON

so.. links pls

so Gigi (Karl) can we have links to your supermodel shoots/samples.
thx!

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

Excessive use of...

..."sockpuppet" in a story.
Minus 5 points.

Mike B

@184.105.144.x

Re: Excessive use of...

How many points is a useless comment claiming that using a word twice constitutes "excessive" use?

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

Re: Excessive use of...

5 more than a reply from an anon Sockpuppet (correct use of the word , add 5 bonus points )

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
Accurate description. + 5 points.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
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Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

The only reason the government is mad at Google

Is that a Google engineer thought of sniffing data from open WiFi access points before they did. The NSA hates when people think of data sniffing ideas before they do it.

I mean why do you think senators wanted Google to give them the data that was collected rather than just destroy the data and provide proof of the destruction to a court officer?
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Crookshanks

join:2008-02-04
Binghamton, NY

Re: The only reason the government is mad at Google

The NSA doesn't need to sniff data from APs, and the United States Senate isn't even in the same branch of Government as the NSA.

Google should be slapped down for this, even if it was the action of a rouge employee. It's illegal to listen on your neighbors unencrypted analog cordless phone conversations, but we should excuse Google for "inadvertently" collecting all this data?

$7,000,000 is barely a sneeze for them. The hope would be that it registers this issue at a management level and they get safeguards put in place to prevent this from happening in the future.

88615298
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West Tenness

1 recommendation

Re: The only reason the government is mad at Google

said by Crookshanks:

The NSA doesn't need to sniff data from APs, and the United States Senate isn't even in the same branch of Government as the NSA.

Google should be slapped down for this, even if it was the action of a rouge employee. It's illegal to listen on your neighbors unencrypted analog cordless phone conversations, but we should excuse Google for "inadvertently" collecting all this data?

Not even the same thing.

A) if I accidently hear 5 seconds of a neighbors analog phone conversation there are ZERO DAs that would prosecute me.

B) Phone regulation s and internet regulations are different. Heck in most areas it's 100% legal to use a neighbors unprotected internet connection.

C) I could walk around my neighborhood with my cellphone wi-fi turned on and I could pretty easily figure out which APs are coming form which houses. I would post this info online and there NOTHING anyone can do about it.

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

Re: The only reason the government is mad at Google

And when it comes to non-broadcast radio data "listening" is usually permissible but using that information for your own benefit is not legal.

This has been skewed in the last decade or so though by people who are clueless about radio waves but the good news is that these wishful intellects will get free schooling on passwords.
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said by 88615298:


A) if I accidently hear 5 seconds of a neighbors analog phone conversation there are ZERO DAs that would prosecute me.

The point is this wasn't accidental, at least one person at google wanted this to be SOP, even though Google officials denied it, claimed the data had been destroyed, and then admitted it hadn't (and that they actually would have commited a crime by doing so before the investigation was complete)
should it have taken all those states AG's to investigate? NO!

It was good that it started public discourse over the lack of privacy regulation or that old laws don't always protect well under current circumstances.
and NOW the AG's can solicit updated regulations/restriction from their state and federal representatives.
Crookshanks

join:2008-02-04
Binghamton, NY
said by 88615298:

A) if I accidently hear 5 seconds of a neighbors analog phone conversation there are ZERO DAs that would prosecute me.

There isn't a DA in the country that wouldn't prosecute you for deliberately driving around town recording five second snippets from hundreds of different conversations. There's a huge difference between "Hey, the baby monitor tuned into the neighbor's cordless phone" and "We're going to drive around and record as many phone calls as we can sniff out of the air."

said by 88615298:

B) Phone regulation s and internet regulations are different. Heck in most areas it's 100% legal to use a neighbors unprotected internet connection.

None of which makes Google's actions any less morally repugnant. They are a vacuum cleaner, sucking up as much data as they possibly can about everybody, to be used at a later date when they figure out how to monetize it. They have zero respect for privacy rights, as evidenced by the words of Eric Schmidt. This is the same company that came out when Gmail was first launched and said they would be indefinitely retaining deleted e-mails from your Gmail account. It was only after much outcry that they changed the policy to "We will delete them immediately, but may retain copies in our backup systems for an indeterminate amount of time."

said by 88615298:

C) I could walk around my neighborhood with my cellphone wi-fi turned on and I could pretty easily figure out which APs are coming form which houses. I would post this info online and there NOTHING anyone can do about it.

Google already does this, with their "you can't opt out without changing your network settings" wi-fi location database. There is however, a big difference between mapping the location of radio transmitters, and recording conversations (or snippets thereof) being broadcast by said transmitters.

I know that Google is the teachers pet here because of Google Fiber, but they are a for-profit corporation and are little different than Verizon or AT&T at the end of the day. They will do whatever they can to make a buck. We can respect them for innovation and trying to shake up the marketplace without turning a blind eye to their excesses.

cork1958
Cork
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join:2000-02-26
said by Crookshanks:

The NSA doesn't need to sniff data from APs, and the United States Senate isn't even in the same branch of Government as the NSA.

Google should be slapped down for this, even if it was the action of a rouge employee. It's illegal to listen on your neighbors unencrypted analog cordless phone conversations, but we should excuse Google for "inadvertently" collecting all this data?

$7,000,000 is barely a sneeze for them. The hope would be that it registers this issue at a management level and they get safeguards put in place to prevent this from happening in the future.

Google should be slapped over and over for several of their shady practices!! I DESPISE them!! They ARE NOT the greatest thing since the invention of the internet!

To bad it wasn't at least a 7 trillion dollar fine!! At least that may have been large enough for Google to notice!
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FFH
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join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
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Much ado about nothing

Much ado about nothing.
Make a mountain out of a mole hill.

The usual suspects tried to make this a much bigger deal than it actually was. And the 30 States Attorneys General saw a way to fool the voters in to believing they actually did something to protect their privacy.

And think about all the wasted taxpayer money that was expended to get what? A payout that was probably much less than it costs the states to obtain it.
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firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

A dslr user?

Does this Scott Cleland guy have like 5 different accounts here?
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JohnInSJ
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Aptos, CA

1 recommendation

If it had been Microsoft

Karl would be beside himself with Internet Rage.

Google? Oh, it's only Google capturing your data. That's what they do, for heaven's sake.
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