Google's Latest Wi-Fi Snooping Fine: $189,000
By German Privacy Chief Who Discovered The Practice
Back in April of 2010
, Google was busted using their Google Street View cars to collect Wi-Fi data from areas they passed through. Google initially stated they only collected publicly available SSID and MAC Address data -- then later acknowledged that they were collecting snippets of actual transmitted data -- though Google insisted they did so accidentally
, and only from unsecured hotspots. Several studies subsequently found that little to no useful data was collected
, given collection vehicles automatically changed channels roughly five times a second -- and also faced physical obstacles and interference.
Despite Google ultimately being pretty straightforward about screwing up, and the fact the data was neither useful or complete -- Google faced numerous lawsuits over the screw up. In the States, those lawsuits were ultimately packed into one large lawsuit brought by attorneys general from thirty different states -- a suit Google just settled for $7 million
In Germany, Hamburg’s data protection chief Johannes Caspar was among the first to highlight the practice. This week Caspar's office fine Google $189,000
for the snooping, closing their investigation into the matter. Caspar's office is limited in regard to the amount he can fine, something he's not-too-happy about:
The fine levied by Mr. Caspar, the largest assessed so far by European regulators in Europe over the practice, amounts to 0.002 percent of Google’s $10.7 billion in 2012 net profit. "As long as violations of data protection law are penalized with such insignificant sums, the ability of existing laws to protect personal privacy in the digital world, with its high potential for abuse, is barely possible," Mr. Caspar said.
Casper actually did wind up believing that Google's data collection was accidental -- his fine cap would have been closer to $300,000 if he had found that Google was collecting this data intentionally.
Re: Google will stop doing it, right?
said by axus:The goal was first to understand what Google was actually doing (inquiries/investigations) then it became how to advance one's career as a prosecutor, regulator or politician whilst also dipping into Mr. Deep Pockets for some funds. I think you refer to the latter.
I think stopping the behavior is the goal, not "teaching them a lesson", right?
| |skeechanAi OtsukaholicPremium
They'll spend more on bottled water Add 3 zeros and they MAY have paid attention.
Re: They'll spend more on bottled water
said by skeechan:AT LEAST 3 zeros. Should've 6 or 9 zeros, IMO, though!!
Add 3 zeros and they MAY have paid attention.
The Firefox alternative.
| |cchhat01Dr. ZoidbergReviews:
·Earthlink Cable ..
I fail to see how this case saw light of day... How was this a criminal offense?
I can be walking around with a phone in my hand and the phone has WiFi in it. If the WiFi is on, it will keep searching for open hotspots.
If I was on a walk-a-thon, I would end up walking several miles and collect miles of data which tell me which location has a hotspot (not for something illegal but just incase I wanted to access my mail and if I was frugal enough not to spend money on HSPA data).
A company gets sued because they can afford to pay out the suit? Where do we draw the line here? In this day and age, I place responsibility on the user to protect their WiFi access via WPA2 (atleast WPA, WEP is basically asking for it, and Open networks are just saying... "please come in and take a dump and because I don't care, I don't expect you to either" )
Google even admitted that the data collection was accidental. Try replacing Google with Verizon or AT&T and see what would have happened. Not imaginative enough, here let me help:
Verizon: We don't spy on our customers
AT&T: We don't provide FBI with Wiretap and our customer's information...
"Look at me, I'm Dr. Zoidberg, homeowner."
said by captokita:Not sure why this is relevant to Google's privacy invasion. Do you subscribe to cable modem service? Your unencrypted downstream traffic is potentially viewable to every other customer that shares your downstream channel(s). Many cable providers don't bother to use BPI. Would it bother you if Google started collecting this traffic?
if you're dumb enough to transmit through an unsecured wifi hotspot, you can't really be surprised that someone uses it.